Nov. 17, 2000
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Randy Fasani's parents went to California. He spent Saturdays as a teen-ager going to Cal football games with his pals. He looked up to the players.
"I was a die-hard Cal football fan," he said.
So it will be a little strange when Fasani takes the field as Stanford's quarterback against the Golden Bears Saturday in the 103rd annual meeting between the two teams. The Big Game is really big for Fasani.
"They'll root for Stanford," he said of his parents. "But my mom will probably sneak in a couple of 'Go Bears!"'
Last season, Stanford had the Rose Bowl on the line and won the Big Game 31-13. The Cardinal have won five straight Big Games and nine of the last 11.
Another victory against Cal would match the longest winning streak in the game's history, which dates back to 1892.
It could also compensate for a rather disappointing season. The Cardinal are 4-6 overall and 3-4 in the Pacific-10 Conference.
The high point was a 27-24 victory over then-No. 5 Texas back in September when DeRonnie Pitts caught a 15-yard pass with 1:12 left.
"It's been a season of great wins and kind of near misses," said Tyrone Willingham, who has won all of his Big Games as Stanford head coach.
Fasani missed three games because of a knee injury, and turf toe could prevent him from staying in the game Saturday at Cal's Memorial Stadium. The Cardinal is 4-3 in Fasani's seven starts, averaging nearly 29 points and 412 yards in total offense, and 0-3 without him.
"I'm going to try and tough it out and see if I can play a full game against Cal," he said.
Cal (3-7, 2-5) is looking at its fourth straight losing season. The Bears won their opener against Utah but then struggled with a four-game losing streak before upsetting then-No. 13 ranked UCLA at home.
"Both teams aren't going to a bowl game," Cal sophomore quarterback Kyle Boller said. "So this is our bowl game."
Although the Big Game is not as high-profile a rivalry as, say, Florida and Florida State or UCLA and USC, it gained national attention in 1982 for what's come to be known as "The Play."
Stanford had a 20-19 lead on a 34-yard field goal by Mark Harmon with four seconds left. On the ensuing kickoff, Cal scored on an improbable five-lateral, 57-yard run that ended when Kevin Moen plowed over Stanford Band trombonist Gary Tyrell - celebrating what he thought was a Cardinal win - and ran into the end zone.
In fact, four Big Games have been decided on the final play. It's those endings that impress Cal senior tight end Brian Surgener.
"To me it's going to be the biggest game of my life," he said. "I've watched three Big Games slip out of our hands."
Even if nothing is on the line except pride. Surgener, who is from Southern California, says the UCLA-USC rivalry doesn't come close.
"It's nothing compared to this," he said. "The alumni will always ask, `Were you on a team that won the Big Game?' I mean, that can get you a job."
By ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer