The Big Game spirit will renew Stanford's energy


By Rick Eymer

Palo Alto Online Sports

If there's one game that can quickly re-awaken a Stanford football player's competitive spirit, it's the Big Game.

The hype and build up all week won't allow the Cardinal much time to wallow in the aftermath of its 53-30 setback to Oregon on Saturday.

It's officially bear hunting season on The Farm and anyone who has been around knows whatever has happened over the past 10 weeks doesn't amount to a hill of beans when it comes to taking on California in a football game.

Over in Berkeley, Saturday's victory over Oregon State, which made California bowl-eligible, doesn't mean much right now either. Stanford colors are unofficially forbidden, even if worn innocently, in the East Bay this week.

Kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. at Stanford Stadium for the nationally televised game on ESPN. While the game is sold out, tickets are available at Stub Hub with prices ranging from $1,295 (each) in Section 132 on the Cal side (two tickets are available) down to $63.99 in the upper end zone in Section 205.

If you don't feel like waiting for Saturday, there are plenty of other Big Week activities sure to stir the blood and ruffle some rival feathers.

"What a lot of us people out of college forget is 18-to-22-year-olds are the most resilient people on the planet," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "They bounce back a lot of times quicker than we do. These guys are itching to get back on the field again. Not just for the game, but for practice."

While the players go about the business of preparation, fans can start getting involved as early as Tuesday, with The Big Sail.

The Stanford and Cal sailing programs host the ninth annual Big Sail on the San Francisco Bay on Tuesday in front of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and at the St. Francis Yacht Club.

Stanford and Cal, which hoist up its school colors, and invite both university marching bands to play at the Yacht Club each year, will begin sailing at noon. Racing will consist of a best of three format with each school's current squads, alumni under 30 and alumni over 30 competing.

Stanford has won the past seven Big Sails. Cal would love to hoist the trophy this time around.

One of the more intriguing matchups leading up to the football game takes place at Avery Aquatic Center, within easy walking distance of Stanford Stadium. The fourth-ranked Cardinal and the third-ranked Bears will jump into the pool for a high intensity men's water polo match that always fills the stands and brings out the best of crazed fans decked out in strange gear.

The water polo match begins at 5:15 p.m., which leaves plenty of time for a little more tailgating on the walk back to the football game.

And what of Andrew Luck, Stanford's good-guy quarterback who always has something pleasant to say and avoids controversy like it was a California nose tackle.

The smart money will be on him being at Maples Pavilion when the Stanford women's volleyball team takes on Oregon in a Pac-12 match Friday night at 7 p.m. Or maybe he'll try to catch some of the Stanford women's soccer match that evening as the Cardinal takes on South Carolina in the second round of the NCAA tournament at 7 p.m.

Or he could still be studying film.

"We joke sometimes about the six-hour rule after games," Luck said. "You should have six hours to celebrate the win. But also six hours to mull over and then flush it. It took me a little longer than six hours."

The Cardinal could still present a strong case to bowl committees; notably the Fiesta and Sugar for one of those spots, or if Oregon somehow sneaks into the national championship the Cardinal would likely find a way to the Rose Bowl.

The two schools have split the last two games, with the Golden Bears (6-4, 3-4) last winning at Stanford in 2009. Cal is looking to give coach Jeff Tedford a late-season boost after an otherwise average year in Berkeley, and there's nothing bigger for the Bears than winning one of the longest running rivalries in college football.

"Going into this next game it doesn't matter what happened last week," Tedford said. "They'll be a lot of hype and energy out there."

Maybe not as much as there might have been had Stanford stayed undefeated.

"I think a lot of guys got back to their dorms and were like, 'Man, we lost,' safety Michael Thomas said. "But the next day when we woke up, you know, life goes on."

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Like this comment
Posted by Old Man
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 15, 2011 at 8:07 am

It's "Big Game" not "The Big Game"

Like this comment
Posted by Go Bears
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 15, 2011 at 8:45 am


Like this comment
Posted by John R. Grout
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2011 at 10:40 am

Since West Virginia (where Andrew's Dad Oliver is the AD) has a bye week in football and both their children at Stanford have home games, it'd be no surprise to see the whole Luck clan in town. In that, they're just like any other Stanford athlete's family... they come to see their children play when they can.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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