On October 6th, 2007, almost 10 years ago, I was an eight year old boy who knew little about college football, but what I did know was that my favorite team the Stanford Cardinal was playing the evil USC Trojans in my hometown and I had tickets.
I remember arriving to the Coliseum wearing my #10 Stanford jersey, which was way too big on me and has now turned into a Keller Chryst jersey. Pretty quickly, I was viewed as the cute kid rooting for the wrong team, and I was the only Stanford fan in a sea of Cardinal and Gold.
When we got to our tailgater, someone asked me who I thought would win, and with confidence, I responded Stanford. The man just laughed, and I didn’t really understand why everyone was writing off Stanford. My dad explained to me that Stanford was a forty one point underdog, but I didn’t see the difference between forty one points and two.
When you’re eight years old, parents and teachers tell you that anything is possible, that you can be anything you want to be. To me, it didn’t matter that Stanford only won one game in the previous season. It didn’t matter that USC was ranked the best team in the country. And it didn’t matter that Stanford was playing with backup quarterback, Tavita Pritchard.
As we got to our seats, I quickly realized we had the best seats in house and were surrounded by USC boosters, and when the game started, the boosters were as optimistic for USC as I was for Stanford. In the first half, the Cardinal stayed within reach of the Trojans, and I cheered at the top of my lungs as Stanford headed to the locker room down 9-0.
USC fans expected their team to run away with the victory in the second half, but immediately, Stanford started things off with a pick six. Out of nature, I stood up in my seat and screamed, but my dad told me to keep it down; people were starting to get angry.
The Trojans went up 16-7 late in the third after a long pass from John David Booty, and fans cried a sense of relief; Pete Carroll was about to finish off the Cardinal for good. Sure enough though, Jim Harbaugh and Stanford responded with their own touchdown.
It was 16-14 when Trojans fans truly started to freak out. They realized they could potentially lose, and my dad realized we could potentially win. We started fist pumping quietly, hoping not to draw attention to ourselves, and suddenly, the cute kid rooting for Stanford became the villain.
A Trojan touchdown and a Cardinal field goal later, the score was 23-17, and USC had the ball. The Cardinal defense stepped up, and Pete Carroll had a choice on 3rd and 19. He could either run the ball for a few yards then punt or take the aggressive route by passing. He went for it, and Booty threw his third interception, giving Stanford great field position and an opportunity to win.
Pritchard and the Cardinal came onto the field with a chance to become heroes, and that’s exactly what they became. On 4th and 20, Pritchard fired a pass to Richard Sherman that was ruled a first down, and the entire stadium booed in disagreement. Meanwhile, a grin came over my face; it was first and goal.
Three plays later, Stanford faced another fourth down, one last chance. They had ten yards to go, and there was nothing for Stanford to do but throw up a prayer. The Cardinal couldn’t out power the Trojans with a run, and the receivers weren’t quick enough to shake off USC corners, so Pritchard threw up a lob to Mark Bradford. Needless to say, the prayer was heard.
Although the game wasn’t over yet, it sure felt like it. There was less than a minute remaining, but USC fans had given up, and everyone reacted differently. Some swore at Pete Carroll, some cried, and others were just shocked.
I, on the other hand, couldn’t stay in my seat. I ran up to the band after the game as they played “All Right Now,” and then found the team celebrating in the parking lot later in the night, but to me, these weren’t players; they were superheroes.
I still have my ticket from that night, the autographs from the players, and a picture of the game hangs up in my room. Heck, I still wear my #10 Stanford jersey.
October 6th, 2007 was the night I fell in love in Stanford.