Cal may be heading in a positive direction and they may have beaten Washington and USC this season, but getting over the Stanford hurdle is still too tough a task for the Golden Bears at this time. Stanford once again topped Cal in The Big Game, winning this year’s delayed edition of the game by a score of 23-13.
Stanford nearly shutout Cal in the second half and closed out the game with 10 points in the fourth quarter. Cal scored a late touchdown with the game essentially decided in every facet except for the final score with 10 seconds remaining. Bryce Love, perhaps playing in his final game for Stanford, carried the football 22 times for 74 yards. Cameron Scarlett scored a touchdown on the ground in the fourth quarter, and quarterback K.J. Costello completed 18 of 29 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown. JJ Arcega-Whiteside led all players with 109 receiving yards on five receptions. Turnovers were crucial in the game, with Cal turning the football over three times to just one turnover by Stanford.
Stanford’s current nine-game winning streak in the rivalry remains the longest winning streak for either team in the series. Cal’s last win came in 2009 with a team that included Shane Vereen topped a Cardinal team with Andrew Luck and Toby Gerhart. Jim Harbaugh was the head coach of the Cardinal. Harbaugh and Luck would get the Stanford winning streak against Cal started up the next season, and David Shaw has continued to keep Stanford on top of the classic rivalry. Shaw is 8-0 in the series.
Both Stanford and Cal should be heading to the postseason to play in a bowl game, so the season is not over yet for either program. Stanford and Cal could land in a number of different bowl games including the Sun Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl and Cheez-It Bowl as the most likely destinations from which to choose.
This spring, the quarterback depth at Stanford will be a tad shallow. K.J. Costello will be held out of spring practices due to a hip injury, according to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated.
Costello was Stanford’s leading quarterback in 2017 with 1,573 passing yards and 14 touchdowns with four interceptions. Costello ended the season with 212 passing yards and three touchdowns in a bowl loss against TCU after throwing for 192 yards and two touchdowns in the Pac-12 championship game loss against USC. He passed for four touchdowns in a 38-20 victory over Notre Dame in the regular season finale. Costello will still be projected to be Stanford’s starting quarterback in the fall.
While Costello is out of action during the spring, David Shaw will get a chance to get some reps in for backup options Davis Mills and Jack Richardson. That will be essential because neither quarterback will enter the fall with a single pass attempt. Keller Chryst has left the Cardinal as a graduate transfer, although it remains unknown where he will be playing in the fall at this time.
There is an old football logic that suggests a player should never lose his job to an injury. Stanford head coach David Shaw appears to live by that mentality as it was announced on Friday that senior quarterback Keller Chryst will return to the starting lineup this week. While Chryst is expected to start, Stanford also announced K.J. Costello is also expected to get some playing time for the Cardinal Saturday night at No. 20 Utah.
Chryst was picked off twice in Stanford’s loss to San Diego State in mid-September and was then roughed up against UCLA in the first quarter and taken out of the game due to an injury. That led Costello to take over the starting duties for last week’s game against Arizona State. Against the Sun Devils, Costello completed 15 of 24 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown. He has thrown three touchdowns without an interception in the past two games. Making the job easier for Costello has been the continued dominance of running back Bryce Love, who continues to pile up the rushing yardage and wiggle his way into the Heisman Trophy spotlight.
Now, with Stanford still very much in the thick of the Pac-12 North race despite having two losses on their record so far, the Cardinal are in the odd position of having a bit of a quarterback controversy smack-dab in the middle of the season. Costello has shown more of an ability to provide some athleticism and versatility to the Stanford offense in limited exposure compared to Chryst. But having Love running the ball allows Stanford to, more often than not, be able to work out some issues in the passing game until Shaw can feel comfortable making a decision with one guy over the other.