We're coming into that part of the NCAA Football season where rivalry games start showing up on the schedules of the major colleges, and this week features a doozy: "The Big Game," the country's tenth-longest rivalry, between Stanford and California. Fans will remember that this is the series that brought us one of the greatest endings to a college football game, ever: the five-handoff, band-crashing, game-ending score by Cal's Kevin Moen in 1982.
Going into this year's edition, the Cardinal will be a likely favorite; they are sixth in the current BCS standings, sporting a record of 9-1 overall and 6-1 in the Pac-10, while the Bears are 5-5 overall and 3-4 in the conference. It should be noted, however, that Cal has won seven of the last eight meetings, and plays host to this season's matchup. Stanford is coming off a narrow win over Arizona State, while Cal nearly scored a major upset, falling to top-ranked Oregon by just two points.
Stanford is lead by quarterback Andrew Luck, who has thrown for just over 2,500 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. Luck's primary target is wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who has 45 catches for 630 yards, and six scores. Other top Cardinal receivers include Chris Owusu, who is second on the team in receiving yardage, and Coby Fleener, who has four receiving TDs, second to Baldwin on the team. The ground game is led by Stepfan Taylor, who has 849 yards rushing and 11 TDs; QB Luck is the team's #2 rusher.
California's offense is lead by running back Shane Vereen, who is just two yards shy of 1,000 for the season. Vereen has found the end zone 13 times, matched only by quarterback Kevin Riley's 13 TD tosses. Riley has thrown for just 1,409 yards this season; his favorite receiving targets are Marvin Jones (699 yards), Keenan Allen (five TDs), and Vereen coming out of the backfield (189 receiving yards and three TDs).
Other notable games this weekend: The ACC's North Carolina State at North Carolina; a Big Ten matchup between Ohio State, who are looking for a BCS berth, and host Iowa, coming off a tough loss to Northwestern; and a pair of matchups marking the return of college football to great baseball venues: Notre Dame vs Army at the new Yankee Stadium; and Northwestern vs Illinois at historic Wrigley Field in Chicago. This weekend also features another historic rivalry game, the Ivy League classic between Harvard and Yale, this year at Harvard Stadium.