Stanford clinches spot in Pac-12 title game

Jake Curtis, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

STANFORD, Calif. -- No. 9 Stanford rolled past traditional rival Cal 63-13 on Saturday at Stanford Stadium. But a more important result for the Cardinal took place more than 700 miles away in Tucson, Ariz.
Before Stanford completed its lopsided victory in the contest known in the Bay Area as the Big Game, Arizona finished off a 42-16 upset of No. 5 Oregon. Those two results assured the Cardinal a berth in the Pac-12 championship game for the second straight year.
Stanford (9-2 overall, 7-2 in the Pac-12) plays Notre Dame in its final regular-season game next Saturday at Stanford. But the Cardinal can do no worse than tie Oregon (6-2 in the conference with a game against Oregon State remaining) for the Pac-12 North Division title. Stanford's head-to-head victory over the Ducks on Nov. 7 would break a tie and put the Cardinal in the conference title game on Dec. 7. The Pac-12 champion goes to the Rose Bowl.
The day could not have turned out any better as far as Stanford coach David Shaw was concerned.
"The combination of getting back in the driver's seat in our conference -- and that's always been our goal -- and playing well in all three phases," Shaw said. "Now the question is: What are we going to do with the opportunity?"
Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan threw five first-half touchdown passes and Cardinal wide receiver Ty Montgomery scored five touchdowns in the first half, which ended with the Cardinal holding a 42-13 lead.
By early in the second half, the Stanford fans were chanting, "Arizona, Arizona." With 1:48 left in the third quarter, the final score of the Arizona game was announced, producing the loudest cheer of the day.
"When the crowd went wild, and what it means to Stanford, it was huge," said Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney, who rushed for 95 yards but had his streak of five straight 100-yard games stopped.
Hogan, who had not thrown a touchdown pass in his previous three games, finished 17-for-26 for 329 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
"I never lost my confidence," Hogan said. "It was fun to get the passing game going, especially the way they were playing defensively trying to take the run away."
Montgomery had five catches for 160 yards, all in the first half, and also ran 31 yards for the game's first score. Neither he nor Hogan played in the fourth quarter.
Cal freshman quarterback Jared Goff set a school record for passing yardage in a season. But his season came to an abrupt end midway through the second quarter when he suffered a separated right shoulder after taking a hit from Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov.
Zach Kline replaced Goff, who was 10-for-19 for 194 yards and surpassed by nine yards the previous single-season school record established by Pat Barnes in 1996.
In Sonny Dykes' first season as coach, the Bears (1-11 overall, 0-9 Pac-12) set a school record for on-field losses in a season. (The 1999 Bears were officially 0-11 but they forfeited four wins for using an ineligible player.)
"I wish it was better," Dykes said. "It's on me. That's all I can say. Cleary, I haven't done a very good job."
Cal, which lost a slew of starters because of injuries during the season, have lost 10 consecutive games overall, 14 in a row to Pac-12 opponents and 16 straight to FBS foes.
"I know how it feels to be the worst," Kline said. "There's nowhere to go but up."
The Bears were overwhelmed by Stanford, which rolled up 603 yards of offense and beat Cal for the fourth straight year. Stanford's 63 points were 15 more than Stanford had ever scored against Cal, and the 50-point margin represented the most one-sided result in the 116 Big Games.
Cal, which entered the weekend ranked 121st of 123 FBS teams in scoring offense and 120th in total defense, stopped little on Saturday.
Montgomery scored the game's first touchdown one minute into the game on a 31-yard end-around.
Cal tied the game on an 80-yard drive that ended with Goff's 15-yard touchdown pass to Maurice Harris, but Stanford regained the lead 13 seconds later on Hogan's 50-yard touchdown pass to Montgomery.
Montgomery scored again on a 12-yard reception to make it 21-7. After a Cal field goal, Montgomery scored his fourth touchdown on a 72-yard reception.
Hogan produced his fourth touchdown pass when he hit Michel Rector for a 45-yard scoring play, then added a 9-yard touchdown pass to Montgomery with five seconds left in the second quarter.
Hogan's first-half totals of 295 passing yards and five touchdown passes were both career highs for a game.
NOTES: The 116 games played between Cal and Stanford rank tied for eighth among rivalries involving FBS teams. They are tied with Oregon-Oregon State, although the Oregon schools will meet for the 117th time on Friday. ... Stanford CB Alex Carter, the team's best cover corner, missed Saturday's game with a concussion. He is expected to return for next week's game against Notre Dame. ... Cal was without its leader in receiving yardage, WR Chris Harper (hip), and its second-leading tackler, LB Khairi Fortt (arm). ... Stanford extended its home winning streak to 15 games, which is the second-longest active streak among FBS schools. South Carolina won its 16th straight home game by beating Coastal Carolina on Saturday.

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