KEY MATCHUPS - STANFORD v CALIFORNIA
Cal's O-Line + Storer v Michael Okwo & Pat Maynor - For the Cardinal to have any sort of success Saturday, they must stop Cal's run game. Stanford runs the 3-4, which puts lots of pressure on their inside backers to take on opposing guards and stop the power run game. Normally I'd say this is a mismatch given the size of Cal up front, but the Bears have really struggled to establish the run game in recent weeks.
DeSean Jackson v Wopamo Osaisai - Stanford's best defenders are at safety (Harrison and Hooper), and they will need to provide regular help to both corners. Still, Osaisai is Stanford's fastest player and a good measuring stick for DeSean. Osaisai is also a demon on punt cover (all-Pac 10), and will be the first Cardinal in Jackson's face on returns.
Pressure v T.C. Ostrander - T.C. and injured colleague Trent Edwards have hit the turf 46 times this season, far and away the most in the conference (ASU is 9th with 33 sacks allowed). Cal has struggled to generate a pass rush, with only 20 sacks in 11 games. This might be the game that Nu'u Tafisi has been waiting for all year.
Jeff Tedford v Walt Harris - Two of the most inventive offensive coaches in America face off on Saturday after two weeks of preparation. Despite their reputations, each has been criticized for conservatism this year - in Tedford's case, it's running in 2nd and short yardage situations; Harris is attacked for not throwing enough on first down. Given Cal's talent advantage on both lines, JT would be wise to ignore his critics and force Stanford to stop the run. Harris, on the other hand, does need to open up the game plan radically and put the team on Ostrander's back.
Stanford Alumni v Apathy - The Band has been neutered, the Tree is in a 12-step program, and no one seems to care about Stanford football anymore. The going line on the chat boards is that Berkeley's not worth the trip - too hostile an environment. Could we see the lowest Stanford turnout in Big Game history?
They don't even care enough to run spell-check