AP file photoStanford took home the Axe last season after routing Cal in the Big Game.

Stanford, Cal set to battle for the Axe in annual Big Game

Stanford and Cal meet in the 114th Big Game on Saturday and there is a little more than bragging rights up for grabs.

“While we have a great deal of respect for them,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said, “it will be a physical game.”

No. 8 Stanford (9-1, 7-1 Pac-12 North) very likely saw its national championship hopes vanish in an instant in its 53-30 loss to Oregon last week.

“Turning the ball over just kills you against Oregon,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “It’s too hard to catch up.”

The Cardinal would need help from a number of teams to reach the title game, but are still in position to possibly claim a berth in a BCS bowl game.

Despite the loss to Oregon, Shaw is confident his team will have its spirits up, as quarterback Andrew Luck will have it no other way.

“The guy bounces back, he’s got pep in his step,” Shaw said of Luck. “We have an opportunity to put our mark back on this season and he’s shown every indication of doing that.”

Stanford committed five turnovers and gave up 146 yards and three touchdowns to Oregon running back LaMichael James.

The Cardinal put up 385 total yards of offense against Oregon after averaging over 500 in their first nine games.

“We missed in our opportunities in the first half,” Shaw said. “We didn’t move the ball offensively.”

Cal (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12 North) has won back-to-back games for the first time since its nonconference slate and became bowl eligible for the ninth time in the past 10 seasons after coming up short last year.

Tedford realizes Stanford presents a tough task, but will be taking some pages out of the Oregon playbook to help the cause.

“Being able to mix and match coverage and pressure the passer and make him get rid of it quickly [is what you have to do against Stanford],” Tedford said. “[Stanford] still had their plays, but I think [Oregon] did a real nice job of mixing up coverage.”

Cal has outscored its opponents 53-13 the past two games after losing three of its first four conference games. The Bears also boast two of the conference’s top two receivers in Keenan Allen (1,103 yards) and Marvin Jones (652 yards).

Stanford won last year’s matchup 48-14 in Berkeley and holds the lead in the all-time series 56-46-11.

“What I stress to them is this game is going to be emotional and we have to control that,” Shaw said. “Don’t let the emotion of the game sneak up on you.”

Cal last beat Stanford in 2009 at The Farm 34-28. The game ended on a Mike Mohamed interception of a Luck pass on Cal’s 3-yard line.

“We’ve had a lot of close games with them,” Tedford said. “We were physical with them and we’ve got to be the same way.”

Tedford is 7-2 against Stanford in his career.

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