Before the season, I didn’t imagine Stanford would enter the Big Game with a 4-6 record.
I figured KJ Costello would be good enough to lead Stanford to a 7-3 record at this point, and the Cardinal might have an outside chance at winning the PAC-12 North. Instead, Costello has been banged up, and injuries have depleted Stanford. Now, Stanford heads into the Big Game fighting to keep its 10-game bowl streak alive, but this game means so much more than keeping that streak.
Win or lose, Stanford’s bowl streak of 10 consecutive games will end. Stanford can’t possibly beat Notre Dame, who at 8-2 will likely make a New Years’ Six game. Stanford needs to win this game because in a season filled with poor play, unfortunate injuries, and questionable coaching it will give Stanford fans something to be proud of.
I remember my first Big Game like it was yesterday. It was 2009, and Toby Gerhart had been unstoppable the entire game. 10-year-old me was heartbroken when Andrew Luck threw an interception at the end of the game, and my dad is still bitter that Harbaugh didn’t run it in with Gerhart, who could’ve enhanced his chances at the Heisman with a key touchdown.
My second Big Game saw more success. We went to Cal the next year and saw Luck get his revenge over the Bears. Luck literally ran over a defender, and the play became a instant highlight that many Cardinal fans still remember today, representing the fact that Stanford has dominated Cal in recent years.
This Saturday will be my third Big Game ever and my first college football game of the year. It’ll take two planes and over seven hours in the air to get to the Farm, but a Cardinal win will make the trip worthwhile.
For Stanford and for the fans, the Big Game is the team’s biggest game of the year. The season has been a failure, but for one day and one game, we can forget about the past, and a win would propel hope into the program heading into next season.
Imagine another career day from Davis Mills; imagine Cal fans suddenly worried about facing him again next year.
Imagine giving Cal its sixth loss of the year; imagine Cal fans frantic the next week about their must-win game versus UCLA.
Imagine winning the Axe for a tenth consecutive years; imagine the horror for Cal fans.
For the longest time, Stanford fans were accustomed to a losing season that were marked as a failure dependent solely on the Big Game’s outcome. A Stanford win would make this season less of a failure and give us a reason to celebrate. A loss would make this season so unbearable and would officially mark the end of Stanford’s football excellence; a loss would be hard to come back from.
So, Stanford fans, I ask you to make the trip to the Farm to show your support for the Cardinal. For those in the Bay Area, I’m sure it’s no more than an hour drive, and if I can make a seven hour flight, you can certainly make the trip too.