The 121st Big Game between Northern California archrivals California and Stanford, scheduled for Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, has been postponed because of poor air quality caused by the Camp Fire that continues to burn about 200 miles away.
The Pacific 12 Conference announced the first postponement of the game in 55 years on Friday, about 27 hours before the schedule kickoff.
The 1963 Big Game was postponed a week after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
“We have been carefully tracking air quality in Berkeley and the Bay Area over the past week, relying on the best data and guidance available to us from medical and environmental experts,” Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton said in a statement. “The forecasts we have received show a minimal chance of the improvement necessary to hold the game on Saturday. While we would have preferred to play the Big Game on its scheduled date, once we realized that air quality would likely not return to acceptable levels, we made the decision to postpone for the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, game-day staff, students, band and spirit groups, alumni and fans.”
The winner of the game receives “The Axe,” and Stanford has had possession of the trophy for eight years.
The only years since 1892 in which the game was not played came during World War I (1915-18) and World War II (1943-45).
Tickets issued for the game scheduled for Saturday will be honored on Dec. 1 and the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.
The game will be played one day after the Pac-12 Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium not far away in Santa Clara, but Cal (6-4, 3-4 in the conference) and Stanford (6-4, 4-3) are not in contention for the title.
Cal will have a week off before hosting Colorado next week, while Stanford will UCLA at the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena.