Stanford has a rich history of scheduling top-notch non-conference opponents, something that has earned them a lot of credit in the eyes of voters, BCS computers, and selection committees. In recent years, they've taken on the likes of Notre Dame, TCU, and....Northwestern....
On that note, let's leave reality and enter fantasy land -- nonconference matchups that probably will never happen, but would be appointment television if they did. As ESPN's David Lombardi reported, David Shaw's dream matchup would be taking on Clemson in Death Valley. "[It] would be an absolute blast," Shaw said. That's Shaw -- here's four matchups I'd want to see, to round out a non-conference schedule (with one extra game):
1. At Alabama
Okay, this was an easy one -- try not to roll your eyes. Yes, I want 'Bama. There's nothing that I'd want to see more than the Crimson Tide and 'Bama West -- Stanford (on the football field) -- going after it in Tuscaloosa. Can someone say storylines?
Two years ago, the score would have been 0-0 going into overtime. Fullbacks on fullbacks, tunnel workers on tunnel workers, and brutality on brutality. A time machine back to the good 'ole days of college football.
Now, Christian McCaffrey would have a chance to prove to the rest of America that he is the best running back in America, in case *some people* hadn't noticed him yet.
There's nothing like gameday in Tuscaloosa (sorry, Stanford Stadium) -- this would be the biggest regular season game of the season.
On a related note, I thought this would be appropriate:
2. 2014's version of Georgia Tech
There's something really special about the triple option offense. I saw Army's rendition of it when they came to The Farm two years ago, and even though they weren't all that inspiring, it intrigued me. It's fun to watch, for a little bit -- it's just a blur of movement in the backfield.
Obviously, I wouldn't want to see the 2015 team that went 3-9 -- that'd just be Army all over again. It'd be fun to see a triple option team in its purest form, like the 2014 squad that went 11-3, take on a big, physical modern defense like Stanford's. They gave Jameis Winston and FSU a run for their money that year -- they were a legitimately great team. I think they could have challenged the Cardinal, giving their defense a very good test.
This one would be at the Farm -- Stanford needs at least one game at "The Library" to make a more balanced schedule.
3. At Michigan
Big House. Jim Harbaugh. Let's do this.
Sure, there isn't too much bad blood between Stanford and Harbaugh, but most Stanford fans would love to give Harbaugh a beat down. He might retaliate by building a satellite camp on Stanford campus or have a recruiting sleepover at David Shaw's house, but it'd be worth it.
On the football field, it'd be another throwback to old time football with two very similar teams, fullbacks and tight ends galore, running very similar schemes. The better, more physical team would almost surely come out of this -- a win over his former mentor would be huge for Shaw. Harbaugh would have to ask him what his deal was.
Every team needs to play a non-conference cupcake...oh wait....