STANFORD -- David Shaw, Stanford's football coach, played wide receiver at the school during the 1990s. He scored five touchdowns in four seasons.
Ty Montgomery played wide receiver for Stanford on Saturday against Cal. He also scored five touchdowns. In the first half.
"I just couldn't believe this was happening," Montgomery said. "I never know what the game is going to be like."
Sounds as if his coach did know.
"If he gets one-on-one coverage," Shaw said of Montgomery, "we're going to give him opportunities."
Montgomery had opportunities. Man, did he have opportunities.
And man, did Cal ever make certain that when opportunities knocked for Montgomery, he opened the door and found a wide-open path to the end zone lined with flowers, perfume-spraying servants and a hosted bar.
All right, that's an exaggeration. But the truth was nearly as ridiculous. On four of Montgomery's five touchdowns, he was not touched. He was not the sole reason Stanford routed Cal 63-13. But he did account for 30 of those Cardinal points.
How'd it happen? Cal coach Sonny Dykes pinned down the precise nature of the Bears' problem with Montgomery.
"We had a hard time covering him," Dykes said.
He then elaborated.
"Whenever they threw the ball to him, he was open," Dykes said.
It really was that basic. The first two times Montgomery touched the ball -- on two of the first three Stanford offensive snaps -- he scored touchdowns. The first was on an end-around play. The other was on a 50-yard catch-and-run in which he dragged a Cal tackler over the goal line.
"I don't think anybody was stopping me," Montgomery said. "I get that close to the end zone, I pride myself on scoring."
This was an accurate statement. Because the next two times that a proud Montgomery touched the ball, the result was ... you guessed it, two more touchdowns. Both were on pass receptions from quarterback Kevin Hogan, the second one a spectacular 72-yard play just 16 seconds into the second quarter.
At that juncture, Montgomery was on pace to score 15 touchdowns in the game. Fortunately for Cal, it was only one more, a fade-route catch on the final play of the first half.
In a way, the Bears asked for the abuse. Cal knew that Stanford loves to run the ball, so Dykes had his safeties cheat up close to the line of scrimmage. This left the Bears cornerbacks isolated against the Cardinal receivers.
"We wanted to make them execute the passing game and complete passes," Dykes acknowledged. "To their credit, that's what they did."
And did. And did. And did. And did. And ... well, you get the idea.
What a glorious day this was for Montgomery, who achieved sweet redemption after dropping some crucial passes in last week's bitter loss to USC and now has 10 touchdowns for the season.
What a stunningly superb day this was for Stanford, which learned in the second half that Oregon had lost at Arizona, putting the Cardinal in the Pac-12 championship game.
And what a rotten day this was for Cal, which concluded an even more rotten 1-11 season as Dykes ended his first year on the job by learning what he already knew -- that his team has a long haul ahead on a return to respectability.
In fact, the Big Game has become essentially noncompetitive. Stanford has won the last four games against Cal by a combined score of 163-58.
History tells us that things can turn around. And when they do, the victories come in bunches. Cal won seven of eight Big Games from 2002 to 2009, just after Stanford won seven straight from 1995-2001. But these current Bears have tons of work to do.
And what of Montgomery? A junior from Texas, he has given no indication he will declare for the NFL draft and fail to return for his senior season. And now, he has more motivation to stick around campus. His big day tied the Stanford single-game record (of former running back Darrin Nelson) for most points and most touchdowns. Perhaps next year, Montgomery can break the record. He had never scored five touchdowns in a game, even as a Pop Warner player. He would not name which of Saturday's TDs was his favorite.
"It's always special to be able to get into the end zone," said Montgomery, who in the second half never saw the ball as Shaw dialed back the offense.
In fact, there were times when Shaw seemed to be studying his play chart and thinking: "Hmmmm. How much more fun do I really want to have today?"
Yet for the record, when Shaw was asked afterward for his view on the lopsided nature of recent Big Games, he offered unsolicited support for Dykes.
"I hope you're listening closely," Shaw said. "I think Cal has hired the right man. I think Sonny is going to do a great job there. They're building. But they know it's going to be a process ... This rivalry is going to pick back up very soon here."
Only if Cal picks up Montgomery better on post patterns.
Contact Mark Purdy at email@example.com.
not half bad
A look at Ty Montgomery's five touchdowns Saturday:
14:00, 1Q: Montgomery takes reverse on second play from scrimmage for 31 yards.
11:30, 1Q: Kevin Hogan connects with Montgomery for 50 yards over middle.
6:58, 1Q: Hogan hits Montgomery on crossing route for 12 yards.
14:44, 2Q: Montgomery takes a wide receiver screen from Hogan 72 yards.
0:05, 2Q: Hogan finds Montgomery on 9-yard corner fade to end half.