For the first time since the program joined the Pac-10 in 1978, the University of Arizona Wildcats secured the coveted Stanford Axe by virtue of their 42-16 rout on Saturday. In an installment of the Big Game that witnessed plenty of history – Stanford set records for the 116-year rivalry series with 63 points scored and a 50 point victory margin – Arizona’s improbable triumph may been the most shocking development of the afternoon.
“There is no doubt this was a great moment for the Stanford program as it gave us a chance to return to the Pac-12 Championship Game and defend our Rose Bowl title,” said Stanford Axe Committee Chairman Daniel Kozlowski, “But it’s obviously disappointing for our seniors who have had the Axe each of the last three years to have to give it up to Arizona in our last Big Game.”
Despite the disappointment of losing the Axe for the first time since 2009, Stanford students were nonetheless enthusiastic after the Wildcat victory. Although mainly subdued throughout Stanford and Cal’s lopsided and uninteresting game, the RedZone awoke with fervent chants of “A-RI-ZO-NA” as the score was announced near the end of the third quarter. Realizing his team had lost the Axe at that point, Stanford head coach David Shaw inserted backup quarterback Evan Crower to finish the game.
“You always work hard to keep the Axe here on The Farm where it belongs, so it’s sad from that perspective,” Cardinal wideout Ty Montgomery told reporters in one of the few spare moments he had all afternoon when he was not scoring a touchdown, “But this is a resilient team and we have a lot of great opportunities ahead of us to prove just how good we are.”
When reached for comment, Cal head coach Sonny Dykes responded, “We simply didn’t prepare our team well enough for Arizona. They came out of nowhere today.”
In a fitting end to one of the most dismal seasons in program history, Cal finished behind both Arizona and Stanford for an unprecedented 3rd place showing in the Big Game.