Oregon head coach Chip Kelly has created a national power in Eugene, and he's done it unconventionally. One of his more controversial characteristics is his refusal to acknowledge that the Civil War battle with Oregon State is anything more than just another game on the schedule. Kelly is fond of saying that Oregon has twelve rivalry games every year, and that each one carries equal weight. It's hard to argue with his results.
Considering Stanford's current run of success, which stretches back three seasons before this one and includes 35 wins, two BCS bowl games, three Heisman Trophy finalists, and 39 straight weeks in the AP top 25 (only Alabama, Boise State, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Carolina can make that same claim), should David Shaw and the Cardinal adopt that same attitude? Instead of focusing on Cal, might it make more sense to take the schedule one game at a time and count the trophies, Axes and otherwise, in January? After all, it could be argued that the two biggest games on the Stanford schedule during this stretch have always been USC and Oregon. These Cardinal teams have been measured by their successes and failures against those two schools, not against Cal. So is Big Game still really a big game?
Of course it is.
Ed McCaffrey was interviewed on the sidelines during the Duke game this year, and was asked about the greatest memory from his time as a player, and his answer was immediate: "Any of the four times we beat Cal." Andrew Luck has also placed his two Big Game victories above his other twenty-nine. Why is this? Why is it so important to beat that team from across the bay?
Big Game is revenge for the travesty of 1982.
Big Game is eighty-five-year-old alums wearing cardinal red pants to their seventieth consecutive battle for the Axe.
Big Game is Tuan Van Le soaring through the air to block a last-second field goal attempt.
Big Game is walking through a sea of Cal fans in Berkeley, smiling as they serenade you, asking you to kindly remove your red shirt.
Big Game is John Hopkins kicking footballs into the stands, then kicking one straight through the heart of Golden Bear Nation.
Big Game is the Lake Lagunita bonfire.
Big Game is Andrew Luck running over Sean Cattouse.
Big Game is about clearing the field because the game isn't over.
Big Game is about the Axe.
So is Big Game a big game? The biggest.