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21 thoughts football newbies will have at Big Game

The Daily’s Jackie O’Neil shares the things you’ll be feeling while shouting in the stands at Berkeley

Stanford students express the full extent of their school spirit during the 2017 Big Game in Stanford Stadium. Do they all know the rules of the game? Probably not. Does it matter? No. (JOHN TODD/isiphotos.com)

Whether you’ll be making the trek up to Berkeley or just hiking across campus for a watch party, the 121st Big Game is upon us. With the pressure of finals still (theoretically) one week away, Saturday’s game is perfectly timed to attract fans of all intensities and levels of knowledge. For some, the game is just one of many opportunities to don body paint and cheer on the Card with routine fervor.

For those like me, however, Big Game is one of only a handful of fall sporting events on our radar. While I’m always thrilled for the opportunity to buck my tradition of weak participation and get into the spirit of Cardinal football, my lack of knowledge about most of the sport’s technical details can be pretty perplexing during game time. If you’re in the same boat, prepare for the confusion: Here are 20 thoughts you’ll probably have during Big Game.

  1. Okay, we’re eight for eight versus Cal in the last eight years, so that bodes well, right?
  2. Half of Stanford’s undergraduate population must be on this team. Why do they need so many players? How many of them can possibly fit on the field at once?
  3. Hold up, why do some of them have the same roster numbers as each other? (Pro tip: There is apparently a defensive team and an offensive team. Now you won’t have to wonder – you’re welcome.)
  4. I wonder if they’re all tight with the guy who has the same number as them, like sorority big-little pairs. Maybe they also make each other thoughtful baskets full of candy and face masks.
  5. Why is everyone shaking their keys? What happened to clapping?
  6. How do the cheerleaders have routines that match every song snippet perfectly? Do they get the set list beforehand? Or are they just really lucky?
  7. Ouch. That’s gotta hurt.
  8. Ah, five minutes before halftime. The perfect strategic time for a bathroom break.
  9. I am not the only person who identified this sneaky bathroom strategy. This is gonna be a while.
  10. People get really riled up about first and fourth downs. Where’s the love for second and third?
  11. Honestly, it seems kind of unfair that the winner of this game gets an axe. I guess theoretically an axe could take down a bear as well as a tree, but still – the symbolism is there.
  12. The winner should get something with equal potential to harm both mascots. Like pepper spray. Or a large slingshot.
  13. Flag on the play! Flag on the play! (This is the sole piece of commentary that I can confidently offer with 99% accuracy. It’s pretty self-evident, but I still like to feel like I’m contributing.)
  14. Seems kind of unfair that teams can get three points for field goals. The whole goal is to run it into the end zone, right? But you can just give up and profit anyway?
  15. All of these men are much larger than they appear on screen.
  16. I wonder how much one of their biceps weighs.
  17. What’s the point of allowing timeouts when the game pauses every 25 seconds? Seriously, for “players,” the guys on the field spend way more time off the clock than actually playing.
  18. I thought football had four 15-minute quarters? Isn’t that 60 minutes? Why has it been three hours? What is math?
  19. Everyone on the sidelines looks way more legit with a clipboard. I should start carrying a clipboard around. And a headset.
  20. They can really just kneel and chill for 40 seconds at the end of the game? Sounds like my kind of sport.

And after the game is over, here’s the final thought you’ll have:

    21. Nine for nine, and it feels just as good every time.

 

Contact Jackie O’Neil at jroneil ‘at’ stanford.edu.

 

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Jackie O'Neil

Jackie O'Neil

Jackie O'Neil '21 is the Managing Editor of the Grind. She's a Richmond, Virginia native who loves constitutional history, pretending to be a serious triathlete, waking up at the crack of dawn and Gilmore Girls – in no particular order. Contact her at jroneil 'at' stanford.edu.