Nine years ago the Bears crushed Stanford 37-16 to regain the Axe, then won a 34-28 heartbreaker the following year to cap Cal's most successful stretch in Big Game history. They won seven of eight years from 2002-2009, and things were looking up in Berkeley.
Over the next four years the Bears gave scholarships to 86 players, many of them highly-touted, and there was reason to believe that their success might continue. But Saturday's 17-14 Stanford win was the Cardinal's eighth consecutive win in the series, and it meant that none of those Axe-less 86* ever tasted Big Game victory. None of the Axe-less 86* ever laid a hand on the Axe.