Stanford Football: Two streaks end in fitting Big Game loss to Cal

Stanford Football (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Stanford Football (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Stanford football program saw two near-decade-long streaks come to an unfortunate end with their fitting 24-20 loss to Cal in the Big Game.

They say all good things come to an end and for the Stanford football team, they learned that unfortunate life lesson twofold on Saturday. The Cardinal fell in heartbreaking fashion to Cal in the Big Game by a final score of 24-20.

And in doing so, they saw the ultimate demise of two streaks that have been indicative of the program’s success over the past decade.

For the first time in 10 years, the Cal Bears defeated their arch-rivals in the Big Game and took the Axe back home to Berkeley. Stanford had held a nine-game winning streak against Cal — the longest in series history — before seeing it snatched away from them in a disappointing finish.

After taking a 20-17 lead courtesy of a 44-yard Ryan Sanborn field goal with 2:23 to play, the Cardinal would allow Cal to march down the field in just 64 seconds and complete a 75-yard touchdown drive to give the Bears what would be the game-winning score.

Once again, the defense’s inability to limit mobile quarterbacks came back to bite them as Cal’s Chase Garbers — who was a game-time decision — scrambled into the end zone to give the Bears the lead with only 1:19 remaining.

From there, Stanford would run four plays on offense failing to convert a first down — including two attempts from a yard away — before Cal took over on downs.

And in many ways, the 4th-and-1 stuff of Cameron Scarlett was a microcosm of the offense’s struggles. Injuries to the offensive line early in the season destroyed any chance Stanford’s running game had of being effective.

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And needing just one yard, one yard to keep their postseason hopes and rivalry streak alive, they came up short.

Not only will the Cardinal have to settle into a reality where the Axe has found its way to Berkeley once again, but they will now enter the final week of their season without a bowl appearance to look forward to.

For the first time since 2008, Stanford will miss a bowl game thus ending a school-record 10-year streak. And for many Cardinal fans — at least newer fans — this will be uncharted territory.

Stanford will now go into their game against Notre Dame next week with nothing to play for except pride. There will be no postseason appearance and next week really is the final week of the season.

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It’s an odd, uncomfortable feeling, but not one that was unexpected given Stanford’s struggles this season. 2019 will be a lost, unfortunate season in Stanford history books — one riddled with injuries and disappointing play.

Barring a miracle victory next week against a Notre Dame team likely to play in a New Year’s Six Bowl, the Cardinal will finish with four wins or fewer for the first time since 2007 — the first year of the Jim Harbaugh era.

It’s a dishearting end to a season that had promise but was derailed before it ever even had a chance. Here’s to hoping that the team’s young freshmen who were forced into playing time this season could come back next year improved after gaining some valuable experience.

For now, all we could look forward to is a matchup with Notre Dame next week that already appears to be a certain loss.

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But brighter days are hopefully ahead for Stanford football.