PASADENA, Calif. (GMC) -- During these past four seasons -- inarguably the greatest four-season stretch in the history of Stanford football -- the final game has not always gone in the Cardinal's favor, and so it was that Stanford fell to Michigan State in the 100th Rose Bowl.
Arizona State was favored to win by most experts on Saturday night, and it's not hard to understand why. The Sun Devils had used their high-powered offense to win seven consecutive games, their fan base was foaming at the mouth for a Pac-12 championship, and Stanford had been decidely mediocre on the road leading into this game. Even though Stanford had manhandled ASU back in September, things had changed for the Devils, and they felt they had a plan that woud give them a victory and a trip to Pasadena for the 100th Rose Bowl.
I'm not sure how much of a rivalry the Notre Dame game really is, since there are at least three Pac-12 teams right now (Cal, Oregon, USC) that most Stanford fans would probably rank ahead of the Irish in terms of animosity, but it still feels good to dominate the team from South Bend.
LOS ANGELES (GMC) -- The five stages of grief can be found in any psychology text book, but they live in the human heart. When Elisabeth Kübler-Ross first put forth her hypothesis in the year that I was born, she was talking about how an individual copes with the death of a loved one, but when pressed, any avid sports fan will tell you that a loss in an important game approximates these same feelings. And so it is today as we look back at Stanford's loss at the hands of the USC Trojans.
Saturday night's game against Oregon State had all the earmarks of a trap game. Coming between perhaps the two most difficult contests on the schedule (UCLA and Oregon) and featuring an underrated opponent led by the nation's leading passer and his favorite target, the nation's leading receiver, this game in Corvallis was a popular pick with those looking for an upset. It didn't turn out that way.
In what has become a rarity in this prime time season, the Stanford Cardinal took the field beneath a bright autumn sun on Saturday afternoon intent on exorcising the demons from the previous weekend's loss to Utah. Instead of telling his team to forget about that defeat, Coach David Shaw had given some different advice. "Bring last week with you," he told them. "Bring the lessons learned about how hard you have to play, how smart you have to play, and how you have to finish."
His charges took all that to heart, and the result was a dominant victory over the ninth-ranked and previously undefeated UCLA Bruins.
If there were concerns about the Stanford offense prior to Saturday night's 55-17 woodshedding of Washington State, they washed away before the first quarter ended. You'll have to forgive me for referencing a former Stanford coach (who was referencing a classic film), but those who were concerned quickly realized that the Stanford offense was, indeed, fully operational.
If you weren't able to watch Saturday's game and all you know is the 42-28 final score, I'm guessing that you're thinking one of two things: A -- That's a great win over a top 25 team in the Pac-12 opener; or B -- Four touchdowns is a lot for the defense to have given up. So if you were thinking one of those two things, you're right. It turns out the glass can be half empty and half full at the same time.
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