Cal’s Wilcox Going For Axe, Bowl Eligibility All In One Week

BERKELEY (KPIX) — Cal hasn’t won the Big Game since 2009, and on Saturday at Stanford Stadium head coach Justin Wilcox will try to win the axe in his first attempt.

“Excellent football team, they do a great job over there,” Wilcox told KPIX sports reporter Vern Glenn. “It’ll be a great challenge for us.”

Wilcox got a taste of the Big Game early in his coaching career when he was an assistant under then-head coach Jeff Tedford. Since Tedford left the program, the Bears have gone 24-35 with just one bowl appearance. A win on Saturday would be Cal’s sixth of the season, making them eligible for another bowl.

Even though the Bears have been on a bye week, coaches are working long hours to prepare for a Stanford team that upset ninth-ranked Washington Friday night. The Cardinal have a good shot to win the Pac-12 North title if they win the Big Game.

“It’s sad in some regards,” said Wilcox in response to Glenn’s question about having to block out current events during the season. “Our players keep us up to speed about what’s going on.”

Cal started the season fast, winning their first three games, but have since dropped back to a 5-5 overall record. But Wilcox has changed the defensive culture of the program in less than a season.

In 2016 the Bears allowed 42.6 points and 518 yards per game under former head coach Sonny Dykes. This year Cal’s given up 29.4 points and 432 yards per game.

Vern Glenn asked Wilcox about his rising popularity in the community: “How do folks treat you when you go into 7/11?”

Wilcox replied with a chuckle: “I don’t really go to 7/11, I can’t really answer that question.”

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