Any hope Cal fans had of seeing tailback Jahvid Best return for the Big Game on Saturday were shot down with one definitive statement by coach Jeff Tedford.

"No chance Jahvid will play," he said at Monday's annual Big Game luncheon.

Saturday will be the second game in a row that Best has missed after a scary fall two weeks ago against Oregon State. Best tumbled high in the air at the end of a 7-yard touchdown run and landed hard on his back and head. He was carted off the field on a stretcher and was diagnosed with a severe concussion.

Tedford said the symptoms from the concussion have subsided. The main issue is a sore back. Best has been getting treatment from Cal's training staff, but when he returns to the field hasn't been discussed.

"Honestly, we haven't mentioned one word about when he's coming back," Tedford said. "It's not a conversation we've had, on the prognosis of his return or anything like that. But definitely not this week — there is no question about it."

Best's absence Saturday means there are only two chances for him to play again this season — the regular-season finale at Washington on Dec. 5 and a bowl game. Considering Best may declare himself eligible for the NFL draft after the season, it's possible Oregon State was his final game at Cal.

  • For the first time in several years, Cal is considered a prohibitive underdog for the Big Game. Stanford, after back-to-back impressive wins over Oregon and USC that has moved it up to 14th in the Associated Press poll, is a seven-point favorite.


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    "I like being the underdog," Cal linebacker Devin Bishop said. "That's something I like because I like proving people wrong. That's pretty exciting for us, being the underdog and coming out and surprising people."

    Cal has been the better program for most of this decade, enjoying national rankings and bowl berths. Stanford, meanwhile, hasn't had a winning season since going 9-3 in 2001.

    The Bears have won six of the past seven Big Games, with the only loss coming at the end of the 2007 season. Cal was a 13-point favorite in that game.

    "They're a good team," Cal left tackle Mike Tepper said. "We already know that. The rivalry alone motivates you."

  • Tedford has had a history of giving a significant workload to his backup running back, but without Best last week, Shane Vereen had a career-high 30 carries. Redshirt freshman Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, who now assumes the backup role, carried just once for 12 yards.

    "We'll see how the flow of the game goes," Tedford said. "We don't have a set plan going into the game. It really goes on the feel of the game and how Shane is feeling. Shane has proven over and over that he can carry the load. We have a lot of confidence in him."

  • Tedford said starting tight end Anthony Miller, who missed the past two games after arthroscopic knee surgery, is expected to play Saturday.

  • Starting nose tackle Derrick Hill, who has missed the past three games, is "getting very close," according to Tedford.