NCAA

Stanford holds off Cal 31-28 under sloppy Big Game conditions

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Stanford holds off Cal 31-28 under sloppy Big Game conditions

BOX SCORE

STANFORD (AP) -- Andrew Luck slogged through a soggy field, all smiles, hands raised, taking a little extra time watching his Stanford teammates sprint to lift The Axe in triumph.

One last Big Game moment to savor.

Luck threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns and No. 8 Stanford survived a shaky start to beat rival California 31-28 on Saturday night in rain-soaked Big Game with a rare late start under the lights.

"It means a lot," said Luck, who has insisted this year will be his last in a Cardinal uniform. "It will mean more once the season is over, I'm sure, you get to reminisce. I feel very grateful and blessed winning two games in a row against them and retaining The Axe another year."

The pelting rain did little to slow Luck down.

Luck revived his Heisman Trophy campaign by tossing scores to Levine Toilolo and Ryan Hewitt, keeping the Cardinal's slim chances of a Pac-12 title and national championship alive. He overcame an early interception and rallied Stanford (10-1, 8-1) from six points down to keep The Axe on The Farm for the second straight season.

"It's special," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "It didn't really hit me until today. You look in the seniors' eyes, they wanted it so bad. As a coach, you can't help but pull for your guys and want them to be successful."

Cal's quarterback might have been the better of the two for long stretches.

Zach Maynard finished with 280 yards passing with two touchdowns for the Golden Bears (6-5, 3-5) in the 114th edition of the Bay Area rivalry. Cal's offense struggled in the second half before a late comeback came up short.

Stanford had its 17-game winning streak snapped the previous Saturday in a 53-30 loss to Oregon that seemed to dash its national championship dreams. With No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Oregon, No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 7 Clemson all falling this week, the Cardinal's chances might not seem so far-fetched anymore.

They host Notre Dame in the regular-season finale looking to stay in the hunt for another BCS bowl - if not a slim shot at the national title - but can only reach the Pac-12 title game if Oregon loses at home to rival Oregon State.

Stanford stuck it out in the slop and emerged with a victory to save what's left of its season.

With a steady stream of rain falling, Luck connected with Toilolo for a 4-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter to extend the Cardinal's lead to 21-13. Stanford stifled Cal's offense again and quickly put the ball back in the hands of its star quarterback.

Luck wasted little time.

He found Toilolo for a 41-yard gain and finished off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to fullback Hewitt to put Stanford in front 28-13.

The Cardinal wasted an opportunity to put the game away earlier when Isi Sofele fumbled. Stanford took over and punted quickly, and Cal pushed ahead with the momentum.

Maynard led a 68-yard drive ending with a short TD pass to Spencer Hagan on third down. After a 2-point conversion on a pass to Marvin Jones, Cal cut Stanford's lead to 28-21 with 10:53 left.

"It was kind of frustrating because they were running the ball a lot right up the middle of the field and controlling the clock," Maynard said. "We had to hurry up and run a two-minute offense, and after that, we just ran out of time."

All that time quickly vanished.

Stanford grinded out 7:40 with a 14-play, 57-yard drive with a series of short runs and passes on slick, soggy field that had defenders sliding in every direction. Even running backs, too.

Jordan Williamson, who missed a 33-yard field goal wide left in the first half and hadn't played in the last three games because of an undisclosed injury, kicked a 35-yard field to give the Cardinal a two-score cushion.

"You've got to have faith in your players," Shaw said. "He missed a kick, but that was the right decision at the time."

That proved pivotal when C.J. Anderson ran for a 1-yard TD run for the Bears with 14 seconds left. But tight end Coby Fleener easily recoved the onside kick to seal Stanford's victory.

The Bears could at least take some satisfaction in closing the disparity between the two teams.

The distance was quite evident a year ago in Berkeley, when Luck and the Cardinal beat the Bears 48-14 in the most lopsided Big Game in 80 years. Cal left Stanford with a 34-28 victory in 2009.

"Any time you lay it all out there like our guys did, these guys have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "They played their hearts out against a really good football team."

This time, both teams had sloppy starts.

Stanford recovered Maynard's wayward pitch back on the game's opening drive and took over at its own 37. Three plays later, freshman Ty Montgomery took a reverse and sprinted 34 yards down the sideline to put the Cardinal ahead 7-0.

The poise and polish Luck has showed so often in his college career again took time to emerge.

Steve Williams stepped in front of a falling Montgomery to intercept Luck's pass and return it 49 yards for a score that was called back because of an illegal block in the back. No matter.

Maynard found half-brother Keenan Allen for a 17-yard TD pass and Giogio Tavecchio kicked his second field goal from 19 yards to give Cal a 13-7 lead in the second quarter.

Stanford powered its way through the rain with a bunched-up running game - and not Luck - to regain its rhythm, ending a 10-play, 78-yard drive with Tyler Gaffney's short TD run to go ahead 14-13 at the half.

Cal never came that close again.

Pac-12 basketball teams near Barcelona terrorist attack safe

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AP

Pac-12 basketball teams near Barcelona terrorist attack safe

Men's basketball teams from Oregon State, Clemson and Arizona were staying at a hotel in Barcelona, Spain, near where a van drove into pedestrians on Thursday, but team officials said everyone was safe.

Spanish police have confirmed they are investigating the bloodshed in Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas district as a terror attack. The area is a popular summer tourist spot.

Tulane also was playing in Barcelona, but it was unclear if they were staying in the same hotel as the other teams.

Oregon State assistant coach Gregg Gottlieb posted to Facebook: "We are all luckily ok. Our hotel/restaurant is located right on Las Ramblas. This tragedy happened right in front of us as our team just sat down for pregame meal. Thoughts and prayers for all those that are were hurt."

The Beavers' game Thursday night was canceled. It was supposed to be the first of a five-game tour.

Clemson was scheduled to play Thursday night against a Spanish All-Star team.

"We've been in contact with our men's basketball program currently in Barcelona and the entire travel party is safe and secure. Their exhibition game for tonight has been cancelled and the team will return to Clemson as previously scheduled tomorrow morning. Our thoughts are with the people of Barcelona," the South Carolina school said in a statement.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that the three teams were staying in the same hotel.

"We are fine. Thankful to be safe and together," Brownell wrote.

Tulane athletic director Troy Tannen confirmed via social media that the Green Wave players and staff were safe.

Replying to a Twitter inquiry from a Portland television about whether the team was OK, Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle responded: "Yes we are, happened directly in front of our hotel while we were having a team meal in the restaurant, so senseless and sad! All accounted4."

Oregon State said it has not yet determined the remaining schedule for the team, which was supposed to be on the exhibition tour until Aug. 25.

A spokesman for Arizona said the Wildcats have canceled their third and final exhibition of their tour and "are currently working on travel plans to return home."

The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof

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USATSI

The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof

Your education dollars are always at work, so it is with pride and bewilderment that we report that the University of California’s incoming class (2021, for those few who can get out in four years) marched to Memorial Stadium and formed the world’s largest human letter.
 
It was . . . wait for it . . . a “C.” A 7,196-person-strong “C.”
 
But the school, as it occasionally does, missed a golden opportunity to seize a golden opportunity. All they needed to do was have a quick whip-round, get $55,586.44 from each and every one of the captives . . . er, students, and they could have wiped out their entire athletics deficit in one night.
 
You see, while forming gigantic letters is always fun (or as the kids used to say when double negatives didn’t mean voting, never not fun), Cal is staring at quite possibly the bleakest future a major athletic university ever has. The athletic department, whose chief officer, Mike Williams, has just announced his intention to quit, is over $400 million in debt between construction costs, ambition, shrinking allegiance and the absence of a Phil Knight-level sugar daddy to buy the pain away.
 
And before you blame Williams, he inherited this indigestible planetoid from his predecessor, Sandy Barbour, who grew it from her predecessor, Steve Gladstone, and hastened it from . . . well, you get the drift. 
 
Cal’s been blowing through money it hasn’t been taking in for years upon years, didn’t realize the deficit-cutting benefits of the Pac-12 Network (because they largely don’t exist), and the day of reckoning looms closer and closer, especially now that new chancellor Carol Christ (no apparent relation) described the deficit as “corrosive” and has insisted that the athletic department have a balanced budget by 2020.
 
In short, the school may only be able to afford a lower-case “C” before too long. Maybe in comic sans.