QB Luck, Stanford overpower Cal
About the only fight California put up against Stanford came before the pregame coin toss when the Golden Bears came out on the field en masse jawing at their rivals.
Stanford's players responded, and that bit of trash-talking ended in a standstill. After that, the seventh-ranked Cardinal turned the day into a Big Game blowout.
Andrew Luck threw two touchdown passes and led Stanford to scores on all eight possessions he played as the Cardinal beat California 48-14 on Saturday for its most lopsided win in the rivalry in 80 years.
''Our guys really kept their cool and I think that was a big difference today,'' Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said. ''They kept their poise. I don't like that kind of football where you try and talk and intimidate. ... Just play football. Shut up and play football.''
That's what the Cardinal (10-1, 7-1 Pac-10) did to win for just the second time in the past nine games against the Golden Bears (5-6, 3-5).
Luck completed 16 of 20 passes for 235 yards and added 72 yards on the ground. Stepfan Taylor ran for three scores as the Cal defense, which shut down No. 1 Oregon's high-powered spread offense in a 15-13 loss just one week ago, had no answers for Luck and the Cardinal's power game.
Luck managed to atone a bit for last year's struggles against Cal, when he completed 10 of 30 passes and threw a game-sealing interception deep in Cal territory with just over a minute left in a 34-28 loss.
''I definitely had some motivation coming off last year's disappointment,'' Luck said. ''That being said, it was a new year and you can't really dwell on the past too much. But I did get a little extra motivation from that experience.''
Twenty-eight years to the day after Stanford was stunned on this same field by The Play, Luck made sure the Cardinal could not be done in by a five-lateral kickoff return through the band for the game-winning touchdown this time. Stanford even got a pep talk from John Elway, the losing quarterback in that 1982 game.
Luck led the Cardinal on touchdown drives of 95, 86, 90 and 61 yards in the first half. He threw touchdown passes to Zach Ertz and Doug Baldwin and bowled over safety Sean Cattouse on a 58-yard run that set up Stanford's first touchdown.
Luck also engineered touchdown drives on the first two drives of the second half, then led the Cardinal to a field goal in the fourth quarter as the offense never slowed down until he left the game in the final minutes.
''It's hard to slow down Stanford consistently,'' Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. ''They're the most complete team (we've played). They obviously have the best quarterback. In my opinion, he's the best quarterback in the country. He's an accurate passer. He doesn't make mistakes. He puts the ball right between the numbers. He's big and strong. When he pulls it down, you can't arm-tackle him, he has speed and athleticism.''
Brock Mansion fumbled the first snap from center, and that was an omen for how this day would go for Cal. Mansion threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and finished 19-for-37 for 173 yards.
Shane Vereen ran for 63 yards, giving him a career-high 1,061 for the season, and Cal got its first score on a 17-yard TD pass from receiver Keenan Allen to Marvin Jones early in the fourth quarter to make it 45-7.
Cal scored on another trick play in the closing seconds as Isi Sofele took a lateral from Allen and scored to help the Bears avoid matching the most one-sided loss in the history of this rivalry. Stanford beat Cal 41-0 in 1930.
The Bears now need to win their season finale at home next week against Washington to be eligible to go to a bowl for an eighth straight season.
The Cal players decided in the morning they would all come out for the opening coin toss to challenge the Cardinal.
''We wanted to show we were emotional, we were here and we were ready to play this game,'' Cattouse said. ''We wanted to let them know we were here.''
The officials quickly defused the situation by calling offsetting personal fouls and ejecting Stanford reserve receiver Jamal-Rashad Patterson.
''When all that stuff happened, we kind of got anxious to get out there on the field,'' Baldwin said. ''It kind of hyped us up a little bit more than we expected it to.''
Mansion then fumbled two of the first three snaps from center, losing the second to set up a field goal by Nate Whitaker.
Richard Sherman intercepted a pass from Mansion to end Cal's second possession. Stanford capitalized with a 95-yard TD drive, capped by Taylor's 3-yard run. The drive was highlighted by Luck's 58-yard run that included the shoulder knockdown of Cattouse.
''It kind of snowballed from there,'' Vereen said. ''It's kind of tough to rebound. We shot ourselves in the foot offensively.''