It might only be a scrimmage, but football is back at Stanford Stadium. The Spring Game this Saturday should answer many questions about the look of Stanford football in 2013-14.
Pasadena, Calif.–It wasn’t pretty, but Stanford proved yet again that its “Blue Collar” style of play is as efficient as ever with a grinding 20-14 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on Tuesday.
There was a point in mid-October when Stanford’s goal of claiming the Pac-12 crown seemed a world away. The Cardinal was coming off a tough overtime loss to Notre Dame, a result that was decided by one of the more controversial calls in college football this season. The Fighting Irish had handed the Cardinal its second loss of the year and the once vivid memory of its upset over USC back in late September was fading fast in the rearview mirror. With a host of ranked opponents still left on the grueling backend of its schedule, the outlook on Stanford’s postseason fate at the midpoint of the season was far less sunny than Pasadena.
Football: Ertz (unanimous) and Yankey (consensus) nab All-America honors as Cardinal collects postseason awards
Stanford football has earned a bevy of individual recognitions since its clinched the Pac-12 Championship on Nov. 30, with senior tight end Zach Ertz becoming just the seventh unanimous All-American in Stanford history and the first tight end in college football to earn that honor since 2004.
Tonight, that dream will be either made or broken as No. 8 Stanford (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) hosts No. 16 UCLA (9-3, 6-3) in the Pac-12 Championship Game, with the winner automatically advancing to the prestigious Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.
When Stanford heads up to Eugene for Saturday’s game, it better be ready for a tough test. Unlike overrated USC back in September, the Ducks scare me. I don’t think Stanford is better than Oregon, but I do think Stanford has a better chance in this game than many people — everyone from Vegas odds makers to local media members — think.
Stanford’s football team has arrived at Murder’s Row. Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA, the last three opponents of the regular season, are a combined 15-3 in conference and 23-3 overall. That’s a tiny bit better than Stanford’s previous two opponents, Washington State and Colorado, who had one win combined, and that was only because they had to play each other.