Time for “Stanfurd” to lose this rivalry

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.

Stanfurd …

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.

Stanfurd …

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?

Stanfurd …

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.

Stanfurd …

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.

Stanfurd …

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.

Stanfurd …

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 burtonn@usc.edu or visit dailytrojan.com.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickMBurton 

11 replies
  1. Al C
    Al C says:

    My first recollection of the rivalry is 1969, USC at Stanford and the defensive penalty that allowed SC to win a no-time on the clock game. In 1971, Stanford visited the Coliseum needing a win to repeat as Pac-8 champions. Memories; Stanford utilizing the USC playbook running the infamous Power-I, student body right, student body left, a 33-18 victory. Lightning flashing and thunder sounding in the coliseum, the Thunder Chickens. The 1972 game; John McKay after the victory “I’d like to beat them by 2,000 points”. The 1976 24-0 Stanford lead at half, Ricky Bell’s sprained ankle in the middle of the third and a freshman Charles White scoring 48 unanswered points. I remember the 49-0 shellacking administered in 1977 in the rain. USC ‘s 11 game winning streak between 1980 and 1990 and prior to that we both have alums that recall USC 12 win streak from 1958 to 1969. All before your time. The 2009 “what’s your deal”, the “ills of hubris” (i.e. Utah 2013, Washington 2012). The recent Oregon game was a great thrill, then the gut punch, allowing 20 in the fourth quarter; old Stanford finding a way to give the game away. Your memories of the 3 past years are never to be forgotten. To be talked about with your fellow classmates, family and friends who support you and agonized the losses with you during your years at school. They will be the unbreakable ties that bind and give you strength. One last comment, all you did was admittedly reveal yourself as a true Cal Weenie, in USC sheepskin. The rejection letters from Cal, Stanford, UCLA and possibly Notre Dame probably sting as much as the losses.
    “The strength of the tribe is measured by the strength of its enemy” Stanford is a reflection of that.

    • Jeff
      Jeff says:

      Knowing the author, I can say he did not apply to Cal, Notre Dame, UCLA and especially (and obviously) not Stanford. You had the best comment yet until that pot-shot

  2. Carolina Tree
    Carolina Tree says:

    It’s GREAT being a Stanford Cardinal. I’m sure many students at USC wished they could have been a part of that 5% of applicants to the Class of 2017 that received a thumbs up from Stanford Admissions. Stanford is simply the best example of combined academic and athletic success. We are what USC craves to become.

    • Selectively Intelligent
      Selectively Intelligent says:

      Carolina, In the real world, nobody cares where you graduated…unless it’s law or MBA. Nobody cares if your school yields a single-digit admission rate…because it’s known that high school level academics can be gamed to get into places like Stanford. Stanford is an elite school indeed, but I hope the vast majority of people there aren’t like you.

      LOL, there is an acquaintance of mine who graduated from Cornell, who occasionally brags about how prestigious and selective his school is, and loves wearing his “Cornell” sweatshirt everywhere he goes. But this same dimwit smokes weed all day, is unemployed, has no g/f, plays video games all day, etc. LOL!!!

      • USC parent
        USC parent says:

        The maturity and social intelligence of the USC student’s response to Caroline of Stanford is of note. This may be one reason why employers voice a desire to hire USC students over Stanford students whenever possible.

    • Carolina Response
      Carolina Response says:

      If it’s so GREAT being a Stanford Cardinal why are you spending your time posting on the Daily Trojan website? Seems kind of strange thing to do for someone that got that big thumbs up from Stanford Admissions and is the epitome of all that combined academic and athletic success.

  3. LOL
    LOL says:

    One difference between USC and Stanford: Stanford students know that studying is the process to doing well on tests and subsequently in class. Apparently USC hasn’t come to that realization yet if they say that studying, regardless of whether it’s at a football game or not, should lead to a flat zero. Still a hilarious article though

  4. jon
    jon says:

    So funny. So very, very right on. A death in the family would not keep me from watching this game. I mean, death is gone and done with. But USC-Stanford….

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