I’ve been consumed.
For exactly seven days now, ever since the clock hit triple-zeros in Palo Alto last Thursday to solidify Stanford’s “upset” win over Oregon, I have obsessed over one single thought. I’ve been so gripped by it that I can’t concentrate in class. I watch TV, but my mind drifts back to it. No matter how hard I try to distract myself, it’s always there.
I don’t even know where to begin. I have so many terrible things to say and they all want to come out at the same time. How can I possibly pick just one? I mean, look at how I spelled Stanfurd. Yes, that’s a “u.” That’s how Cal fans commonly refer to their bitter rival.
Say it with me now, and grit your teeth: “Sstahnfurddd.” Let the “d” linger. It makes your blood pressure rise, doesn’t it? I’ve been at USC for almost four full football seasons. In that time, the Trojans have beaten every single team in the Pac-12, save for one.
More than a year ago, I wrote a column that must be among the most unprofessional pieces of writing ever published in the Daily Trojan. It was more or less about my unbridled hatred for the Stanford Cardinal, and it wasn’t even remotely close to resembling a piece of objective journalism.
This won’t be either. Why?
For four straight years, the Cardinal have beaten the Trojans in increasingly maddening fashion. The “What’s your deal?” blowout at the Coliseum in 2009, the oh-so-close loss in Palo Alto in 2010, the heartbreaking triple-overtime instant-classic in 2011 and the upset that wasn’t really an upset a year ago.
Watching Oregon vs. Stanford a week ago was brutal. Being able to count on the Ducks losing a big game is one of my favorite parts of college football. But my dislike for them is nothing compared to my hatred — yes, hatred — for the Cardinal.
When their fans stormed the field after beating a team ranked a mere two spots ahead of them in the BCS, my first reaction was disgust. As the saying goes, “Act like you’ve been there before.” And as much as it pains me to say, Stanford certainly has. But then I just smiled.
Smile probably isn’t the right word. It was more of a smirk. I thought about this Saturday: primetime, under the lights at the Coliseum, College GameDay in the house. I cannot even describe my level of anticipation. It’s the game of the season for me. As a fan, if I had to choose to beat either Stanford or UCLA, it wouldn’t be a question.
One win. That’s all I ask. One win in my time here over the team I grew up despising as a Cal fan — and Stanford wasn’t even good back then. That stupid train horn they play after every score. Storming the field after practically every win. I mean, some of their students bring laptops to games and study! What? That should be an automatic zero in whatever class they’re studying for. Or a 15-yard penalty, I don’t care.
This is not just another game on the schedule. To call this a grudge match would be selling it short. I don’t actually know what comes after a grudge match, but whatever it is, it still wouldn’t describe this. I don’t think I can recall a week in my time on this campus in which a game was so anticipated.
Everyone knows what this game means. The notes distributed to the media this week describe Stanford as USC’s “longtime foe and recent nemesis.” That could not be a more apt description. All four California schools in the Pac-12 have always had rivalries, beyond the obvious regional ones in USC-UCLA and Cal-Stanford. But to some USC fans, especially younger ones, Stanford has risen its way to almost the same rung as UCLA or Notre Dame. For others like me, they’re well past.
It’s time to restore order. Stanford is a fine school, with a fine athletic tradition across a variety of sports. But this isn’t tennis or swimming or golf. This is football. For Stanford to be better than USC — and they have been, for half a decade now — is unacceptable. It is a disturbance in the force of college football. They shouldn’t matter. They should be an insignificant blip in the path of not just USC, but every college football team.
They’re not Alabama. They’re not Ohio State. They’re not Notre Dame or UCLA. They’re not even Colorado (look it up, seriously). They’re just …
“Any Given Saturday” runs on Thursdays, ironically. To explain to Nick how this makes no sense, or comment on this column, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit dailytrojan.com.
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