Clash of Titans
Games featuring a future Hall of Fame coach on each sideline.
November 22, 1924: Stanford @ California
Glenn "Pop" Warner vs Andy Smith
Glenn "Pop" Warner called this game "my greatest day in football." The former coach of Carlisle and Pittsburgh wrote:
I came to Stanford as head coach with a tough job ahead of me. Stanford was weak, woefully weak, and had been the doormat of the Pacific Coast Conference for some time. The year 1924 was my first year there and it was my misfortune to arrive at a time when California was ruling the roost with its "Wonder Team" as the writers called it. Under the able coaching of Andy Smith, the old Penn fullback, California had consistently beaten Stanford in their "Big Game." Naturally, we wanted to win against the Bears, and I don't think a team took the field with a stronger motive, or greater desire for victory than this Stanford team of 1924."
Andy Smith had never had a losing season at California since he took over in 1916. From 1920-23, his Cal teams won 36 games, lost none, and tied two. They defeated Ohio State in the 1920 Rose Bowl 28-0 and played a scoreless tie against Washington and Jefferson in Pasadena the next season.

Stanford Coaching Staff: L-R: Tiny Thornhill, Pop Warner, Andy Kerr, and Stanford captain Jim Lawson
M: California coach Andy Smith; R: Ernie Nevers
The two Bay Area rivals entered the game with impressive records: 7-0-0 for Stanford and 7-0-1 for Cal. The Cardinal had outscored opponents 149-22 while the Bears had compiled a 128-31 advantage over their foes. Cal was favored by 14 points based on their tougher schedule.
The opposing coaches had contrasting coaching philosophies. "Carry the ball and keep on carrying it," said Warner. "The best defense is a strong offense." Smith believed, "Kick the ball and keep on kicking it. The team that gets the breaks will win."
Both teams would compete without a star player. Stanford's junior FB Ernie Nevers was rated the Pacific Coast's best player in both football and basketball as well as an outstanding pitcher and a leading track performer. In a scrimmage before the first game of the season, Nevers broke his ankle and was lost for the first six games. Stanford won them all. Erniereturned for the seventh game against Montana, but the hard-luck fullback broke his other ankle and was sidelined for the rest of the regular season.
Smith lost his fastest back in a much different manner. Two days prior to the game, the Stanford Faculty Athletic Committee declared Norman Cleveland ineligible. Entering a game in 1921 for a few plays cost him a season of eligibility. Stanford offered to forfeit its 1924 conference victories, but the opponents declined the offer.
The game was scheduled for Cal's new 73,000-seat Memorial Stadium, which had opened late in the previous season. A record crowd of 77,000 jammed the stadium with several thousands more watching from "tightwad hill." The Oakland Tribune reported that scalpers were getting $100 for a pair of tickets.
Neither team came close to scoring in the first period, which devolved into a punting duel.
Stanford finally starting moving the ball on their first possession of the second period. Jim Lawson gained 16 on a "tricky reverse play." Then Cliff Hey passed to Ted Shipkey for 20y more. Staying on the ground, the Cardinal marched to the six before running out of steam. So Murray Cuddeback kicked a field goal. Stanford 3 California 0
A few minutes later, Cuddeback intercepted a pass and returned it into Cal territory. Two completions for 28y put the ball on the nine. But on fourth-and-goal from the three, an incomplete pass turned the ball over to the Bears.
Stanford soon had the ball back at midfield. On fourth down, Cuddeback lined up for a field goal from the 43. With many expecting a fake, the rangy halfback's toe sent the ball sailing through the uprights. Stanford 6 California 0
Coach Smith's halftime talk must have been a doozy because Cal came back furiously after the break. James Dixon ran for 13. Then Talma Imlay tore through the whole Stanford team for 47y to put the pigskin on the eight. Bert Griffin scored from there, and Glenn Carlson's conversion gave Cal the lead, 7-6.
After forcing a quick punt, the Bears continued their rampage. After Griffin zipped for 28, three passes moved the ball deep into Cal territory. Soon after the final period began, a 16y pass from Dixon to Griffin gave the Bears a second touchdown. The PAT was missed, a mistake that cost Cal the victory. California 13 Stanford 6
Stanford's woes continued when Carlson recovered a fumbled punt on the Cardinal 28. That led to a third touchdown as Griffin, with several tacklers clinging to him, fought his way into the end zone. California 20 Stanford 6
The Cardinal finally got their offense back in gear. Fred Solomon ran 25y, then took a pass from Edgar Walker for 20 more. Walker threw an 18y touchdown pass to Shipkey. Cuddeback converted. California 20 Stanford 13
The Bears responded with a drive of their own. After Hey passed to Shipkey for 33y, George Bogue went in at fullback and began gaining.
With less than three minutes remaining, the desperate Cardinal, 81y from pay dirt, began shooting passes in all directions. On third-and-five, Hey hit Shipkey, who ran all the way to the Cal 36. After two plays gained only 2y, Walker threw to Cuddeback for a touchdown. Cuddeback calmly booted the crucial PAT–his 14th point of the day–to tie the game at 20.
Despite ending in a deadlock that kept the series even at 12-12-6, the game was widely considered one of the most exciting in West Coast football history.
Their Cinderella season earned the Cardinal an invitation to the Rose Bowl to play Notre Dame. Read about that game...