Without a doubt, the 1982 Big Game had the most spectacular finish. That year, John Elway, playing in what was to be his last game as a Stanford player, faced fourth down and 17 yards-to-go from the Stanford 13-yard line with only 53 seconds remaining. Amazingly, he completed a pass to receiver Emile Harry for 29 yards. Two long plays later, Mark Harmon converted a 35-yard field goal to put Stanford up 20-19 with only four seconds to go. Already the game was being heralded as one of the best ever. However, the final four seconds held in store the most memorable play in college football history, forever to be known as simply "The Play." California's Kevin Moen took the Stanford "squib" kick-off at his own 43-yard line. Immediately, the Berkeley return team made like a rugby squad, as each Cal player who came into contact with the ball lateralled to a teammate just as he appeared on the verge of being tackled (or, in at least one case, as replays clearly showed, after the ballcarrier had been tackled). After five such laterals, Moen ended up with the ball again and sprinted into the end zone, running through the prematurely celebrating Stanford Band in the process. Pandemonium reigned in Berkeley as Cal claimed a touchdown on the return, while Stanford insisted that somewhere along the line, one of the ballcarriers had been downed. After several minutes of discussion, the officials awarded the touchdown and the game to California by the score of 25-20, though some Stanford faithful remember the score to this day as Stanford 20, Berkeley 19.

Text courtesy Stanford Axe Committee