"We have been carefully tracking air quality in Berkeley and the Bay Area over the past week, relying on the best data and guidance available to us from medical and environmental experts," Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton said in a statement. "The forecasts we have received show a minimal chance of the improvement necessary to hold the game on Saturday."
The Air Quality Index reading near Berkeley has hovered well above 200 for over 24 hours, a level at which "serious consideration should be given to rescheduling the activity or moving it indoors," according to the NCAA.
"Prolonged exposure and heavy exertion" at that level, the NCAA says, "should be avoided."
Cal's original plan was to wait until Saturday before deciding the fate of the game, it said in a statement, but because a forecast from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District indicated conditions were unlikely to improve, the decision was made Friday.
Cal and Stanford have been eliminated from contention in the Pac-12 North, which is why they will be able to play Dec. 1, the day after the conference championship game will be played in nearby Santa Clara.
This is the just the second postponement of the Big Game. It was delayed one week in 1963 following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The rival schools have been playing each year since 1892 with the exception of breaks during World Wars I and II.
San Jose State, which is roughly 50 miles south of Berkeley, plans to go ahead with Saturday's home game against Nevada. However, it will play the game at noon local time, two hours earlier than it was previously scheduled.
"Air quality readings vary greatly across the Bay Area, and daytime figures have been more favorable in San Jose than in surrounding areas, falling within recommended NCAA guidelines," a statement from the Mountain West Conference said.
Saturday's FCS game between Sacramento State and UC Davis has been moved from Davis to Reno, where it will be played at Nevada's Mackay Stadium.
The University of San Francisco announced it has postponed Friday night's men's basketball game against Arizona State. The Dons also moved their Sunday game against LIU Brooklyn and the USF women's basketball game against Cal Poly down the coast for a doubleheader at Cal State Monterey Bay.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.