By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Stanford football coach David Shaw was a true freshman in 1990, taking in the sights and sounds of his first Big Game.
"It's still the most memorable Big Game in my mind," Shaw said. "I'm standing on the sideline and we score (with 12 seconds left) but fail on the two-point conversion and the fans rush the field. They clear the field, assess a 15-yard penalty and Stanford recovers the onside kick."
A roughing-the-passer penalty against Cal gave Stanford one last chance, with Jon Hopkins delivering a 37-yard field goal with no time left.
"I'm standing there watching all of this unfold," Shaw said. "I look over to Hopkins and he's looking to warm up for the possible field goal. There was no net. It had been taken away when the fans stormed the field. Hopkins just shrugged his shoulders and started kicking balls into the stands to get his timing down. Then he goes out and kicks the game-winner."
This is also the 30th anniversary of "The Play," on which the Bears scored the winning points on a 5-lateral, 57-yard touchdown run with Stanford trombone player Gary Tyrell famously getting bowled over in the end zone.
John Elway had brilliantly led Stanford on the come-from-behind drive that included a fourth-down, 20-yard reception for a first down. He called timeout with eight seconds remaining and Mark Harmon hit a 34-yard field goal to put Stanford ahead and, apparently, nailed down a bowl bid to the Hall of Fame Classic.
Then THIS happened
"I remember I was in disbelief," Shaw said. "That happens on the school yard, but not in a college football game. It's iconic for college football. There's a significant portion of us here at Stanford who think the play should never never happened. There was a point a knee was down and there was a forward lateral. That only adds to the lore of that play."
As for playing the game in October? (It's usually the last or next to last game scheduled every year).
"I don't like it," Shaw said. "It's weird. It's different but it's still Big Game week and still a snapshot in time. This week is its own entity."
Cardinal senior linebacker Chase Thomas, who said Saturday's 20-13 overtime loss at Notre Dame was one of the toughest he's been through, acknowledged the setback remains hard to let go off.
"At the same time it is Big Game Week and we have to refocus and regroup," Thomas said. "Right now it's weird. It's October and it's still warm. I'm sure once the preparation gets underway, the energy level will get better."
NOTES: Stanford's game against Washington State on Oct. 27 will start at 3:15 p.m. . . . Stanford sophomore receiver Ty Montgomery remains doubtful (knee) for the game at Cal (a scheduled noon kickoff) and Jamal-Rashad Patterson is again listed as the starter on the depth chart. Montgomery is starting to get back on the field . . . Stanford is ranked 22nd in AP's poll and 23rd in USA Today's Coaches poll . . . Stanford ranks second in the Pac-12 in rushing defense and Cali is ranked third in rushing offense . . . Stanford senior running Stepfan Taylor needs 95 rushing yards to match Toby Gerhart for second all-time on the school list . . . The Cardinal has not scored an offensive touchdown on the road since Tyler Gaffney scored with 6:07 left to play against Oregon State last Nov. 5.