The accolades keep rolling in for Stanford running back Bryce Love, who jumped back into the Heisman Trophy race with a stellar performance in last week’s stunning win over Washington. Love looks to push the 23rd-ranked Cardinal closer to a Pac-12 North title on Saturday against visiting California, which has lost seven in a row in the historic series between the teams.
Love aggravated his injured left ankle in last Saturday’s 30-22 win over Washington but still rushed for 166 yards and three touchdowns against a Huskies’ defense that had allowed three rushing touchdowns all season. “I don’t know if you can ask anything more from a football player,” coach David Shaw told reporters. “He played on one leg and played a phenomenal game. I’m not going to mention any awards, but if he doesn’t win ’em all, then I don’t know what’s going on. This guy is unbelievable.” The dynamic 5-10 junior, who originally injured his ankle against Oregon on Oct. 14, leads the nation in rushing at 180.22 yards per game, averages 8.96 yards per carry and has 11 runs of at least 50 yards. Love figures to receive another heavy workload against Cal, which needs to beat either Stanford or UCLA to become bowl eligible for the second time since 2011.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Stanford -16
ABOUT CAL (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12): Junior Patrick Laird, who came to Cal as a walk-on and began the season listed third on the depth chart, recorded career highs with 214 rushing yards on 33 carries in a 37-23 win over Oregon State before the bye week. Quarterback Ross Bowers helped the Bears snap a two-game losing skid by going 24-of-30 for 259 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk has 58 tackles over the last six games to lead the Bears’ improved defense, which is allowing 29.4 points per game and 4.3 rushing yards per carry.
ABOUT STANFORD (7-3, 6-2): Love has 15 rushing touchdowns to lead the Cardinal, which can win the Pac-12 North title with the combination of a win over Cal and a victory by Washington over Washington State on Nov. 25. The offense received a boost against the Huskies from sophomore quarterback K.J. Costello, who threw for a career-high 211 yards without a turnover in his third career start and connected with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside five times for 130 yards. Stanford’s defense is allowing 21.4 points with Harrison Phillips (team-high 7.1 tackles per game) and safety Justin Reid (five interceptions) leading the way.
1. Saturday marks the 120th meeting between the teams with Stanford holding a 62-46-11 lead.
2. Cal has lost 11 consecutive Pac-12 road games dating back to Sept. 26, 2015 at Washington.
3. Stanford is 21-6 in the month of November under Shaw.
PREDICTION: Stanford 33, Cal 17