The Big Game never approached 'Big-dom'

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The Big Game never approached 'Big-dom'

Stanfords 21-3 victory over California in the 283rd Big Game was a pretty desultory affair by any definition except maybe Stepfan Taylors.

And Cals performance was particularly pewter-gray. Its offense, spotty in the best of time, left barely a drop of ink, and was so ineffectual that the defense, which was acceptable, couldnt actually make a dent at the other end.

As a result, Jeff Tedford got another turn in the pan, because there is nothing quite like never having a chance in the Big Game to agitate the alums who influence these decisions. He wont get fired unless one of those alums ponies up a big enough package to buy his last three years out, but he continues to lose support across the board.

Thats the politics, baby, as Richard Pryor used to say.

But having a coach on the hot seat on October 20th feels as hollow as anything else connected to this new Big Game tradition. The Pacific 12 Conference moved the game to this completely alien time, and though this seems a lot like complaining about the soot after the fire has been extinguished, its still difficult to take the game, its results or its ramifications seriously.

RELATED: Stanford dominates Cal 21-3 in 115th Big Game

And there are ramifications above and beyond just Tedfords still-chimerical jeopardy. Stanford has national aspirations that dont feel like they were particularly advanced by Saturdays win. Cal didnt have a game upon which it can build for the rest of the schedule Utah, Washington and the two Oregons. The new Memorial Stadium has still not been properly blooded by a game in bad weather.

There was an artificiality about this Big Game Week, as baseball crowded it out of the attention it rightly expected. There was no proper buildup, and even the on-campus traditions seemed a bit too, well, stand-alone. The Big Game is not a campus-only event, and frankly has been powered mostly by the alums for most of its history.

Oh, the schools tried, but traditions do not take dents lightly. This was a necessity logistically, but it still ended being a failure.

The game came and went Saturday but it never even approached Big-dom. It will be little known nor long remembered. Stanford controlled the game but did not dominate. Cal held its own in the second half, but never got close to making it an argument. And the arguments about Tedfords security just fell flat, because there is too much season still to be negotiated.

2012 doesnt figure to be a great year in Berkeley (the Ursines have a decent chance to split and finish a deeply meh 5-7), but the Big Game is designed either to buoy the fan base or bury it. This does neither.

Nor does Stanford look ahead to Notre Dame and then a big-deal bowl game yet. The Cardinal already played Notre Dame, and are likely to finish either 8-4 or 9-3, with Oregon State the make-or-break game.

But the season is still going to be kind of a pffffffttt, because the big moment for both schools has already come, and gone. The Big Game may have taken one for the team the team being Larry Scott but it took more for the team than the team deserved.

Stanford tops North Carolina on PKs, advances to NCAA final

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USATSI

Stanford tops North Carolina on PKs, advances to NCAA final

HOUSTON — For the second straight season, Stanford found itself depending on penalty kicks to advance to the College Cup final.

Like last season, the Cardinal came out on top. After each team converted its first nine attempts in the tiebreaker, Amir Bashti made it 10-for-10 for Stanford. Tar Heels defender Alex Comsia then sent his try over the crossbar to end it, giving Stanford a 10-9 win.

"They had just as many good chances as us, and it could have been a 1-0 game either way," Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn said.

Stanford (14-3-5) will face Wake Forest in the College Cup final on Sunday in search of its second straight national championship.

"It's not his fault. We could have done things in the game to have his back," North Carolina defender Colton Storm said of Comsia's miss. "It could have been any of us."

"It's the nature of the game," North Carolina coach Carlos Somoano said. "Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't. Sometimes there's moments you seize the moments, and sometimes it runs away from you."

North Carolina (14-3-4) had the two best chances of the game. Late in the second half, forward Alan Winn was denied by goalkeeper Andrew Epstein, who made a nice save with his legs.

Later, Epstein made the best save of the match in the final seconds of the second overtime on a shot from forward Tucker Hume. After gaining possession in the right side of the 18-yard box, Hume unleashed a shot that Epstein deflected wide with his legs.

"He made the plays to keep the game at 0, and he deserves credit," Somoano said.

After a flurry of corner kicks and a free kick in an attacking area, Stanford had the best opportunity to score in the first overtime on a header from Drew Skundrich, but he put if over goalkeeper James Pyle, who had six saves. Foster Langsdorf, the Stanford goal leader who scored in the team's first three tournament games and has 15 on the season, had three shots and two on goal but was unable to break the deadlock before the game went to penalty kicks.

"Any result like that is going to be tough to swallow," Storm said. "Stanford's a really good team. We each had our chances. National semifinal, it's going to be tough to swallow no matter what."

While Epstein was unable to stop any of North Carolina's penalties in the shootout, his saves late in the game enabled Stanford to continue its quest for a repeat.

"Andy's never really attracted much attention, but when you're his coach you appreciate him," Gunn said. "You can depend on him."

Stanford has won 15 of its last 18 games after starting the season with three ties and a loss. The Cardinal have yet to concede a goal through four tournament games, while North Carolina's season ends after a third consecutive tournament shutout.

After winning the first national championship in program history last season, Gunn praised his team for continuing to push forward this season.

"It's incredible," Gunn said. "You've always got to be optimistic. There's no point in being anything else. We started the year so well in January. I thought, 'These players are so hungry.'"

Seton Hall slips past Cal basketball at Pearl Harbor Invitational

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AP

Seton Hall slips past Cal basketball at Pearl Harbor Invitational

HONOLULU Jabari Bird nearly notched his first collegiate double-double with 22 points and a career-high nine rebounds, but just as his effort fell short, so did California men's basketball's efforts against Seton Hall. The Pirates slipped past the Golden Bears, 60-57, at the Pearl Harbor Invitational to hand Cal its second loss of the season. The Bears are now 7-2.

Seton Hall's Angel Delgado scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Delgado, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward, made 6 of 9 shots from the field in a game-high 36 minutes played.

Desi Rodriguez scored 15 points and Khadeen Carrington had 14 points with four assists for the Pirates (7-2).

Carrington tied it at 45 with just under 12 minutes to play on a 3-pointer from the right wing, which ignited a 7-0 Seton Hall run. California never regained the lead.

Ivan Rabb's putback pulled the Golden Bears (7-2) within 58-57 with 31.1 seconds remaining, but Carrington and Delgado each hit a free throw to extend the Pirates' lead to 60-57 with 2.7 seconds left.

Bird had a chance to sent it into overtime, but his 3-pointer from about 25 feet as time expired was no good.

California closed out the first half with an 11-4 run to turn a four-point deficit into a 34-31 lead.

It was just the second meeting between the teams with California winning 81-76 on Dec. 8, 1973.

BIG PICTURE

California: Rabb, a 6-11 sophomore, struggled for the second consecutive game. He made just 3 of his 8 shots from the field and finished with eight points after being held to a season-low six points against Princeton Tuesday. Rabb, who has been playing with a left wrist injury, entered Wednesday's game averaging 17.5 points per game.

Seton Hall: The Pirates reeled off their third straight win despite making just 9 of their 20 attempts (45 percent) from the free-throw line. They shot just 46.6 percent (21 of 45) on free throws for the two-day tournament.

UP NEXT

California will host UC Davis Saturday, its seventh home game in 10 contests this season.