The Band Is on the Field: Cal-Stanford Rivalry Joins ACC in 2024

    The rivalry between the Cal Golden Bears and Stanford Cardinal has been a long-lasting rivalry that will continue on as they transition to the ACC in 2024.

    Nicknamed “The Big Game,” the next chapter of the historic rivalry lives on as the Cal Golden Bears take on the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday night, November 18.

    It’s the 126th meeting of the two teams as they both look to add another chapter to college football’s oldest rivalry in the West. Despite the two teams making the move to the ACC next year, nothing else will change for this rivalry in the past, present, or future.

    History Behind the Big Game

    This rivalry dates back to as far as 1892, when two of California’s oldest sports teams first met up for a game resulting in a 14-10 win for Stanford. It was former United States President Herbert Hoover who was one of the organizers of the first game between the two schools, as he was Stanford’s student manager at the time. He, along with his friend, Cal manager Herbert Lang, was able to bring in 20,000 people for the game.

    Since then, the two teams have played each other every year except for two short stretches. They didn’t play each other from 1915 through 1919 due to Cal moving to football while Stanford was still playing rugby. The other gap was from 1943 through 1945, as Stanford shut down their football program due to World War II.

    Starting in 1933, the winner of the game has received the Stanford Axe. The Axe, prior to that, had been stolen multiple times by both sides starting in 1899. The teams then decided to make the storied trophy the reward for the winner of the game, and it has been given out ever since.

    Stanford owns the series against Cal, as they lead 65-49-11 overall. The Cardinal have won ten of the last 13 games. It’s been the Golden Bears of late that have been playing well, as they have won three of the last four meetings, including a 27-20 win over Stanford last season.

    Impact of the Move to the ACC in 2024

    College football has seen its fair share of conference realignment, with teams moving all over as of late. Cal and Stanford were indeed a part of that shuffle, as earlier in the season, it was announced that the two schools would be moving on from the Pac-12 to the ACC along with AAC member SMU.

    With plenty of rivalries being separated, like Oregon-Oregon State and Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, fans can rest assured that Cal and Stanford will continue their storied matchups.

    MORE: Big Game Annual Results — Every Game Between Cal and Stanford

    While the ACC will be eliminating divisions from the conference starting next year, Cal and Stanford are guaranteed to be playing against each other, as they represent one of the 16 matchups the ACC has protected to be played annually.

    The transition to the ACC will be a new and challenging move for the two schools, but there will be some familiarity with the programs as they continue to play each other for years to come.

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