Remound Wright ran for four touchdowns and Stanford used a smothering defensive effort to rout rival California, 38-17, on Saturday and clinch bowl eligibility.
Blake Martinez intercepted two passes and forced a fumble as the Cardinal (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12) created five turnovers. Stanford beat the Golden Bears (5-6, 3-6) for the fifth straight year in the Big Game, parading around Memorial Stadium with the Axe in front of an emptying crowd of 56,483.
Jared Goff tied Cal’s record for touchdowns and broke his own school record for yards passing in a season but had little to show for his milestones. He threw for 182 yards, one TD and two interceptions.
Cal can still clinch bowl eligibility at home against BYU next week.
For a change in recent seasons, the 117th Big Game actually had big implications for both teams.
A series of setbacks put the two-time defending Pac-12 champion Cardinal on the brink of missing the postseason, especially with a visit at No. 11 UCLA looming in the finale. The Bears went 1-11 last season — with the lone win against lower-tier Portland State — but had shown signs of progress in coach Sonny Dykes’ second year.
Instead, Stanford turned it into another Big Game blowout.
The Cardinal crushed Cal 63-13 last year — the largest margin of victory in the running rivalry — and tied the second-biggest road victory in Big Game history this time.
Wright ran for 92 yards on 23 attempts, becoming the first Stanford player to rush for four touchdowns in a game since Stephan Taylor in November 2010. Stanford lost top playmaker Ty Montgomery with a sprained right shoulder in the first quarter. X-rays were negative, the team said.
Cal’s conference-worst defense couldn’t overcome its own loss when safety Michael Lowe was ejected for targeting the head Austin Hooper on the first play from scrimmage. That was just the first in a series of mistakes for Dykes’ team.
The Bears finished with 12 penalties for 113 yards, while Stanford had just four penalties for 21 yards.
Kevin Hogan threw for 214 yards and one interception, and he also ran for a short touchdown as the Cardinal overpowered the Bears on both sides.
Martinez jarred the ball loose from Daniel Lasco on third-and-goal, and he intercepted consecutive tipped passes from Goff in the second quarter to sway the momentum Stanford’s way. Goff had not thrown an interception in his previous 159 attempts, a school record.
Goff entered the game one TD pass behind Pat Barnes’ record of 31 in 1996. He also was 110 yards shy of his own record of 3,508 yards passing he set as a freshman.
Goff’s eclipsed the first mark and broke the other but couldn’t bring the Bears back from a big hole — and sometimes didn’t even get the chance.
Freshman Luke Rubenzer, who has been used primarily as a wildcat quarterback, threw two interceptions in the second half. Cal also had touchdowns overturned on three consecutive plays — two runs by Rubenzer and a touchdown pass from Goff to Kenny Lawler — by video review before settling for a field goal.
The Bears recovered a surprise onside kick to give Stanford a brief scare, but the Cardinal quieted Cal for good with another stop and a score by Wright for a 38-10 lead.