STANFORD -- Stanford doesn't like it one bit. The Big Game in October? No, thanks.

But playing Cal this week, of all weeks, might be exactly what the No. 22 Cardinal needs.

If anything can help the players and coaches move past the bitter loss at Notre Dame, it's a date with their archrival.

Imagine Stanford trying to focus on Washington State or Colorado (two upcoming opponents) immediately after the drama in South Bend.

"Usually you have the 24-hour rule (to dwell on the previous game), but this might be the 48-hour rule," coach David Shaw said. "But once we get into game preparation for Cal, I'm not going to have to worry about our guys' motivation."

Linebacker Chase Thomas called the 20-13 overtime defeat to Notre Dame one of the toughest of his career -- alongside the overtime loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.

The bitter taste lingered throughout the cross-country flight home and into Sunday.

"It wasn't gone," Thomas said Monday. "But once we start to focus on Cal with today's meetings, hopefully everyone will forget. It's a tough one to let go, but it's Big Game week. We've got to regroup."

Stanford believes tailback Stepfan Taylor scored the tying touchdown against Notre Dame with a 1-yard run in the first overtime session.

The Pac-12 officials on the field ruled that Taylor was stopped inches from the goal line even though there was no whistle ending the play and Taylor's second effort pushed the ball into the end zone.


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The replay officials from the Big East upheld the ruling.

After watching a tape of the game, Shaw declined to criticize the officials -- "I've been told explicitly by my wife that I'm not allowed to get fined" -- but he acknowledged including the play (and others) in his weekly report to the Pac-12 office.

  • On the decision to send Taylor up the middle after he was stopped cold on third down, Shaw said: "We've scored on that play repeatedly over the years."

  • Stanford's leading receiver, sophomore Ty Montgomery, is expected to miss the Big Game because of a knee injury suffered two weeks ago against Arizona.

    Montgomery's replacement, Jamal-Rashad Patterson, dropped the only pass thrown to him at Notre Dame.

  • After five years without an overtime game, Stanford has played four in the past 12 games: USC and Oklahoma State last season, and the past two weeks against Arizona and Notre Dame.

  • This is the 30th anniversary of "The Play," Cal's five-lateral kickoff return for a game-ending touchdown to beat Stanford 25-20.

    "I just remember being in disbelief," said Shaw, who grew up in the East Bay and was 10 years old at the time. "That happens on the schoolyard, it doesn't happen in a major college football game.

    "I remember being amazed over the years at seeing the contentiousness over that play from both sides.

    "And what better way to end it than somebody in the band getting hit. That also never happens in a major-college football game."

    For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports. Contact him at jwilner@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5716.