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The Last Time the Stanford Football Team Played in Asia

Stanford and Notre Dame have reportedly discussed playing their 2013 game, which is currently scheduled for Nov. 30 at Stanford Stadium, in China. If it happens, it won't be the first time that the Cardinal has played football in Asia. Here's a brief look back at Stanford's 1986 trip to Tokyo for the Coca-Cola Classic.

The Mirage Bowl

Prior to 1986, the Coca-Cola Classic, which counted as a regular season game, was known as the Mirage Bowl. Future Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams was named MVP of the inaugural game in 1977 after leading Grambling to a 35-32 win over Temple. The game, which featured a pair of Pac-10 teams on four occasions, was held every year until 1994. Notre Dame beat Miami, 40-15, in 1979.

Stanford vs. Arizona

The game's organizers announced Stanford and Arizona as the 1986 participants following USC's 20-6 win over Oregon in 1985. The schools were originally scheduled to play in Tucson on Nov. 15, but the date was moved to Nov. 29 -- the final weekend of the regular season -- when they learned they would be squaring off in Tokyo. Stanford and Arizona each received $150,000 plus expenses for the trip.

The Stadium

The Cardinal and Wildcats played at 72,000-seat Olympic Memorial Stadium, site of the 1964 Summer Olympics. The stadium's facilities were primitive, with the locker room accommodating about 20 players. According to one newspaper account, USC's and Oregon's players showered at their hotel in 1985, which was about an hour away from the stadium.

The Experience

In the week leading up to the game, Arizona head coach Larry Smith allowed his players to experience the Tokyo nightlife. Stanford head coach Jack Elway didn't let his team leave the hotel. "We hadn’t gone out any night we have been here," said backup quarterback Greg Ennis, who filled in for injured starter John Paye. "After the loss to California, we had to prove we could do it." Smith took a different stance. "What are we supposed to do?," he said. "You come to Japan for once in your lifetime and stay in a hotel? That doesn't make sense." Stanford's travel party, including staff, the LSJUMB, and fans, totaled nearly 500.

The Game

Both teams' postseason destinations were already determined -- Arizona was headed to the Aloha Bowl and Stanford was bound for the Gator Bowl, but they put on a good show nonetheless. Muster ran for 108 yards and a touchdown, Ennis accounted for two scores, and Kevin Scott returned a kickoff 88 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown in Stanford's 29-24 win.

The Crowd

Sixty-thousand red-and-white pompoms were distributed to fans and cheerleaders flashed signs around the stadium instructing the crowd when to cheer. Programs included a full explanation of American football. The Stanford and Arizona bands teamed up to play a 30-minute pregame show, 18-minute halftime show, and another 30-minute set after the game.