The 1924 Big Game
a former Stanford
Daily sports editor and has written for several
Breier explains why a lump comes to the throat
old timers when they recall the 1924
Editor's Note: The Bootleg is
proud to present this article as it originally appeared in Editor Peter Grothe’s
outstanding, but long out-of-print 1952 compilation of essays, Great
Moments in Stanford Sports. The Bootleg is profoundly grateful to our
longtime friend Mr. Grothe for having given us permission to re-publish these
wonderful, long-forgotten articles and open them up to a new generation of
Greatest Big Game of All Time?
pay your money and take your choice, in the minds of the later-day fans. Some
will swear by the 1947 21-to-18 great game,
back the 1950 7-to-7 tie.
scratch any old timer who was about in 1924 and you
find an expert on every
of that 20-to-20 game. He will bow to no one and accept no other game when it
the greatest of the Stanford- California
to the hearts
of so many
both sides of the Bay,
take its place among the greatest of all time.
and football were a little different in 1924. The student body
some 2,800 and the ratio
was about 1 to 5. This was
shoulder and hip pads.
not required and some players
from both sides chose the freedom
its first year under the coaching of Glenn S. "Pop" Warner,
the center throwing
motion rather than the present-day
of two undefeated teams
to the winner was to go
of meeting the Four
Horsemen of Notre Dame in the Rose
coaches met that day
first time. Andy
had gone through 47 games without
was riding a seven-game
crowd to witness a Pacific Coast American football game to that
opinion as to the outcome was about evenly
divided. The advantage, if any, was given to California, for Norm Cleveland,
starting Stanford left halfback, had been declared ineligible three days before
the match. He was found to be playing in his fourth year of varsity competition,
as he had played two minutes in the Nevada game as a sophomore.
ineligibility coupled with the continued loss of fullback Ernie Nevers from
ankle injuries seemed to be a heavy blow to the Cards.
was known to have built his system about the kicking and passing of Cleveland.
Nevers was not to reach the height of his fame until 1925. He had been out of
most of the 1924 games because of injuries. .
Memorial Stadium was packed with some 80,000 red-hot football fans on that
additional thousands viewed the game from the surrounding hillsides and
tension of this game had been mounting all year. Neither team had met really
tough opponents; this was to be the final test of ability, stamina,
first quarter was almost a letdown. Both teams featured straight- line plunge,
end run, “kick-and-hope-to-put-your-opponent-in-the-hole” football.
running and a pass received by Ted Shipkey on the seven-yard line set up the
first score of the game in the second quarter. Little Murray
most maligned player of the year, then booted a three-point field goal from the
18-yard line to put Stanford in the lead, 3 to 0.
had been much criticism of Warner's playing Cuddeback during the season and
starting him in this game. He had made only seven
yards from scrimmage during the three Coast Conference games. Many
thought he should have been relegated to the reserves.
it was Cuddeback who marked up the next three points after a fierce exchange of
down and punts. This came with
a half-minute left in the half and from.
45-yard line. His place kick put the Cards in front 6 to 0 at the intermission.
was known as a third-quarter team that year and a third- quarter team
drive featuring a 47-yard
Jim Dixon to "Tut" Imlay pass started on their 19-yard line and ended up with
the ball over the goal line. California led 7 to 6.
a short exchange of punts, California took the ball on the Stanford 42-yard line
and began another march. As the quarter ended,
run the ball to the Stanford
the third play of the
and a 14 to
day a player
back into the
the next quarter
the fourth quarter.
Cal the ball
on the Stanford
Four successive line bucks
the score stood
20 to 6 with but five
his first conversion
of the day.
But it did
to matter at that
the stage was
one of the
greatest comebacks in Stanford athletic history.
must be remembered that the defense was
of the offense in that era. The forward
pass had been in use for years,
not been developed
to the point that a team could be expected to score twice in so short a time.
And California was famous for its line play.
the game today."
that our old-timer will grow a little incoherent,
one must go to the record books for
happened in the next five minutes.
Ed Walker came in for Halfback Jim Kelly
projected himself into the limelight with his surprise passing.
Fred Solomon to the Cal 15-yard line. A loss of seven
on an end-around.
Captain and All-American Jim Lawson makes 4 yards
on the same play.
is Walker to Ted Shipkey
Cuddeback scores his
point of the game and it is California
20 to Stanford
It is about here that Cuddeback is knocked
him and the game
left and it seems that the Cards must take
to the air again. But first
line to draw the Cal defense up.
in for Hey
gets one yard
up the middle.
a frenzied and unbelieving stand that then saw
back to throw
to Cuddeback who
ran it over
approaches the line for the try
linemen just start to get settled when George Baker, who
had met and played equal to Cal's
the ball back for the kick.
The surprised Cuddeback put it squarely between the goal posts and it was 20 to
later why he had centered the ball before his team was set and ready, Baker told
Pop, I thought the time would run out on us!"
the point was made and game tied. At the half it was Stanford's game, in the
first of the fourth it was all California's, and at the final gun it was
nobody's. But Cal's string of wins over Stanford was over.
"Old Fox" of the East had brought his winning ways to the Farm.
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