Cal gets in the spirit for the Big Game

The Big Game — the infamous annual showdown between the California Golden Bears and the Stanford Cardinal — kicks off tomorrow (Nov. 19) at 2:30 p.m. at California Memorial Stadium on UC Berkeley’s campus.

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One of the major highlights of every PAC-12 season, the Big Game was first played in 1892, drawing 20,000 fans to Stanford’s stands — 10,000 more than expected — starting what is now one of the most-watched college football rivalry games in the U.S.

In 1982, Cal scored a winning touchdown in the last four seconds of the 85th Big Game after Stanford’s band had already marched onto the field, celebrating the Cardinal’s victory. Dubbed “The Play,” it’s been called the most remarkable play in college football history. In the video above, KGO radio announcer Joe Starkey hails The Play at “the most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heartrending, exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football.”

Tonight (Friday, Nov. 18), the Big Game Bonfire Rally — to take place at the Hearst Greek Theatre — will feature the Fiat Lux torch, a 10-foot-tall propane-fueled embodiment of the Cal spirit. Student and alumni performers will take the crowd through the history of campus with stories and comedy acts, and fireworks will light up the night sky. The doors open at 6 p.m. and the fire will be lit at 7 p.m.

On game day, fans can join the Cal Marching Band and spirit groups on Piedmont Avenue to greet and cheer on the Golden Bears as they make their way from the team bus to the stadium. Afterward, fans can head to Sproul Plaza with the band and spirit groups for the pregame rally, singing fight songs to get revved up for the epic march to the stadium.

Tailgate Town will be open (with free admission) three hours before kickoff on Maxwell Family Field by Memorial Stadium. There will also be a bounce house and face painting.

If Cal wins the Big Game (for the first time in seven years), the chair of the UC Rally Committee will present the axe — a plaque with an axe mounted on it that shows all the Big Game scores — for students to see.

Learn more about the Big Game festivities.

For more information about the Big Game or to buy tickets, visit Cal Athletics.