Yes, I know the Washington game kicks off in just a few hours, but here at Go Mighty Card we just can't get enough of Stanford's win over USC, otherwise known as the team Under Stanford Control. (I really wish I had made that up, but I didn't.) Anyway, just click play...
If you're a Washington Husky, there are two games on your schedule that are highlighted immediately each year: Washinton State in the Apple Cup and the University of Oregon. Those geographic rivals will always take top billing, but if the Cougars and Ducks occupy Husky fans' every waking thought, it's the Stanford Cardinal that lurks in the darkest corners of their nightmares.
Stanford has beaten the YouDub (or do we spell it the EweDub?) four years in a row, and outscored them 106-21 over the past two. Leading up to the 2011 game, Husky players and head coach Steve Sarkisian spoke openly about the need to atone for the previous year's 41-0 home shutout, but they were physically, emotionally, and spiritually broken after yielding 65 points and a Stanford-record 446 yards rushing in another loss.
So what will this year bring? What can we expect to see from the Huskies this year? I obviously don't know, so I went to two people who do. Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times and John Berkowitz of UW Dawg Pound (you can find my answers to his Cardinal questions over there) were both kind enough to answer my questions about the Huskies. Enjoy...
Here's the fifth episode in the Cardinal Channel's Stanford Football series, "How We Do It." Focusing on game day last Saturday, this week's episode takes viewers inside the locker room for pregame speeches, interviews the principals involved in the game's pivotal plays, and shows the postgame celebration. Spoiler alert: you will get goosebumps.
If once is an aberration, twice is a trend, and three times is a pattern, what is four times? We'll talk about that important question a bit later, but for now let's focus on what happened on Saturday night.
I believe that the Mighty Card will beat USC this weekend. After navigating what amounts to the preseason portion of the schedule, Coach David Shaw has given his new quarterback confidence and an increasing amount of responsibility within the offense, the offensive line has coalesced, and the defense has regained its leader.
Stanford has beaten USC three years in a row and four of the past five, and that trend should continue. Even though the Trojans have a clear advantage at the offensive skill positions and overall team speed, there's a sense that Stanford simply matches up well against USC. Coach Shaw's NFL experience prepared him well to design a game plan and call plays against USC's Tampa 2 defense, a scheme that was all the rage during Shaw's various stints with Philadelphia, Oakland, and Baltimore, and the defense has always performed well enough against Matt Barkley and company to secure the win. (Oregon, on the other hand, a team similar to USC in many respects, is a decidedly bad matchup for the Cardinal. Coach Shaw still hasn't figured out how to compete with them, but we've got a couple months before we have to worry about that.)
The problem with this analysis, of course, is that it's far from unbiased. If you were to travel across the country and ask a thousand randomly selected college football fans with no connection to Stanford University about this Saturday's game between the Cardinal and the Trojans, I'm guessing that about 995 of them would pick USC to win.
But I am connected to Stanford University, and the people I talk to about football either lived in my freshman dorm or populate a message board focused on Stanford sports. There's a possibility that I lack the proper perspective to offer an accurate preview of this game. In an effort to provide a more balanced opinion, I sought out someone with a strong bias in the other direction. Enter Will Robinson of the USC blog, Conquest Chronicles, who was kind enough to answer some of my questions. It's a great read, even if he did dodge a couple of my more insightful questions. Enjoy...
During the week following Stanford's opening day win over San Jose State, observers close to the program and college football analysts across the country were in near unanimous agreement on the state of the program.
Several things were clear. The void left at the quarterback position was too great to fill, and it was affecting the overall performance of the offense. Of equal concern was the conservative nature of the playcalling, and there were some who even wondered if perhaps Coach David Shaw was in over his head a bit.
There were physical issues, as well. Though acknowledged to be a work in progress, the offensive line did little to instill any faith in the future with their performance in week one. If they couldn't establish themselves against San Jose State, how could they hope to protect a quarterback or lead a rushing attack against USC or Oregon or Notre Dame?
And what about the defense, with its supposedly dominant front seven and improved secondary? As the Spartans were marching up and down the field during that forgettable third quarter, it wasn't hard to imagine Pac-12 offensive coordinators salivating.
We'll have a full recap and the usual analysis a bit later today, but for now you can check out these video highlights, courtesy of the Pac-12 Networks. I'm not sure how I feel about the Pac-12 Networks, but that's a topic for another day. Right now, maybe we should just bask in the glory of the Cardinal victory.
In the second game of the season last year the Stanford Cardinal travelled 2,000 miles and three time zones to visit Duke University. That Stanford team featured the presumptive Heisman Trophy winner and had designs on a Pac-12 Championship and an appearance in the BCS Championship game. While there were a few hiccups early on, most notably a pick-six thrown by Andrew Luck, but everything went as planned in the end as the Mighty Card cruised to a 44-14 win.
How things have changed.
Regardless of how worried some in the Cardinal camp might be, last week's narrow win over San Jose State did not signify the coming of the apolocalypse. This week's game against the Blue Devils, though, has become an important measuring stick.
Can the offensive line live up to the legacy of those who blocked before them? Can Josh Nunes look to be a bit more aggressive? Or, more importantly, will Coach David Shaw let him?
We'll get the answers to these questions in only a few days as Stanford takes on Duke in the back end of a home and home series. In many ways Duke looks a lot like the Stanford Cardinal. Hailing from a small, private institution with a strong academic reputation, the Blue Devils are trying to compete in a power conference against teams with far more lenient admission standards. Only five years ago those aspirations would have been seen as foolish, but then Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw arrived in Palo Alto and changed the world. Some Duke fans have wondered aloud why the Blue Devils would agree to fly across the country for a game that will be televised to only a handful of small pockets across the country, none of them in ACC country. Here's why: Coach Shaw's program is what Duke Football wants to be when it grows up.
What really matters, though, is what happens between the lines this Saturday. For a closer look at this year's Duke squad, I sent a few questions to Patrick Cacchio of Blue Devil Nation, and he was kind enough to respond with some incredibly thorough answers. (You can check out my side of the conversation over at his site.) Enjoy...
Thanks to a recent donation, as of October 16th, GMC readers have donated a total of 215 books to my classroom! If you'd like to contribute, simply click here! Or, click here to read my original post and find out more!