It’s been a while since the Cardinal has come out on top in the Granddaddy of Them All—41 years to be exact. Tomorrow on New Year’s Day, No. 6 Stanford (11-2, 8-1 Pac-12) finally has the chance to end that drought as it squares off against Wisconsin (8-5, 4-4 Big Ten) at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
To say that the Stanford offense will have some new faces this season would be an understatement. With a new quarterback at the helm, young contributors at the wideout positions and some talented freshmen joining the offensive line, the identity of each individual component will remain uncertain until the team is tested in game situations. But the one thing that is neither new nor uncertain is the Cardinal’s unwavering trust in its running game.
Not many college football teams in the nation can lose an offensive guard and tackle to the first two rounds of the NFL Draft and still boast a robust offensive line. Stanford is one of the few teams that can. The Cardinal can thank some newly arrived and much-hyped freshmen for that. Heralded as the focal point of the best recruiting class in school history, the Stanford freshman offensive linemen have more than lived up to expectations thus far in preseason camp.
It’s 8 a.m. on a sunny, brisk Monday morning in mid-July. Most of the Stanford campus is fast asleep at this time of the morning during the school year. In the summer, it’s eerily silent. But on the practice football field, redshirt freshman outside linebacker Kevin Anderson is already an hour into the team run, with half an hour still remaining.
Undrafted & Underrated: Stanford WR Griff Whalen works to join his best friend, Andrew Luck, on the Colts’ roster
A shortened version of this story appeared in The New York Times’ college sports blog The Quad and in The Daily print edition today.
“With the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select Andrew Luck, quarterback, Stanford…”
Luck strides across the Radio City Music Hall stage in a dark-blue suit and a tie with lilac and lavender stripes, his normally shaggy hair groomed for the occasion. He bear-hugs the league commissioner and flashes a goofy smile for the rows of cameras.
Back at Stanford, in the Rains apartment he shares with Luck, Griff Whalen is also beaming. Staring at the 36-inch TV in the corner of their living room, he watches as the kid from Houston that he’s known since freshman year, talks to Deion Sanders on ESPN.
As the spring sport season winds down, it’s time for the sports sides of our brains to start drifting back to their cherished equilibrium: college football. So with midterms and no Sharks hockey to distract me (five more months and counting…) I found myself sifting through YouTube for the last few years of Cardinal football highlights. Let me rephrase that—I found myself sifting through YouTube for the last few years of Toby Gerhart and Andrew Luck highlights.