Both teams faced each other in the 112th Big Game with seven wins each, the first time this had happened since 1991. The Cardinal had scored a combined 106 points in two previous games against higher ranked opponents, with consecutive upsets over Oregon and USC, two teams which had blown out Cal 42-3 and 30-3, respectively. Cal also played its second game without star running back Jahvid Best, again starting backup Shane Vereen.
The Cardinal scored on their first possession when Toby Gerhart broke free on the game's third play for a 61-yard touchdown. After successfully blocking a punt, which gave Stanford field position on the Cal 19 yard line, Gerhart scored again on a 2-yard run. The Bears responded with a scoring drive of their own that resulted in a field goal. In the second quarter, a Cal drive was halted when Richard Sherman intercepted Kevin Riley deep in Stanford territory. The Cardinal were unable to capitalize on the turnover however, and the Bears went on a five minute scoring drive that saw Vereen score his first touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run with just over a minute left in the quarter to make it 14-10 Stanford at the half.
Cal took its first lead in the third quarter with a 92 yard scoring drive resulting in a 4 yard run by Vereen. Stanford was able to move downfield in turn, but missed a 45 yard field goal. The Bears marched downfield again and scored on a 3 yard run by Vereen. Stanford responded on the ensuing possession by scoring on a 1 yard run by Gerhart. The Bears in turn scored in the beginning of the fourth quarter with a 12 yard pass from Riley to Marvin Jones. Midway through the quarter, the Cardinal put together an 87 yard touchdown drive which resulted in Gerhart getting his fourth score of the game on a 5 yard run. After getting the ball back with just under 4 minutes left in the game, Stanford attempted a fourth down conversion which failed. The Bears took possession on the Stanford 23 yard line, but ended up settling for a field goal, making the score 34-28 and giving the Cardinal a chance to win with more than two and a half minutes left if they could score a touchdown. Stanford started out with good field position at its 42 yard line and was able to drive down to the Cal 13 yard line. Cal linebacker Mike Mohammed saved the game for the Bears when he intercepted Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck, allowing Riley to take three straight knees and Cal to retain the Stanford Axe.
The loss, as well as a double overtime win later in the day by Oregon over Arizona, eliminated Stanford from Rose Bowl contention and the possibility of sharing the Pac-10 conference title. Luck threw for 157 yards, while Gerhart rushed for 136 yards and all of Stanford's four touchdowns, tying a single Big Game record previously set by Cal players Chuck Muncie and Lindsey Chapman. Cal's victory marked the 100th coached by Jeff Tedford, matching Pappy Waldorf for the most wins at Cal in the modern era, with 67. Riley threw for 235 yards and a score, while Vereen had another career game, rushing for 193 yards on 42 carries with three scores.
- ↑ No. 14 Stanford flying high into Big Game vs. Cal. Yahoo! Sports. Archived from the original on November 21, 2009. Retrieved on November 22, 2009.
- ↑ California 34, Stanford 28 - Play by Play. Yahoo! Sports. Archived from the original on November 25, 2009. Retrieved on November 22, 2009.
- ↑ Cal beats No. 14 Stanford 34-28 in Big Game. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved on November 22, 2009.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Cal Football Postgame Notes - at Stanford (Saturday, November 21). University of California. Retrieved on November 22, 2009.