Monday, October 17, 2011

Stanford @ WSU

The flight to Spokane on Friday evening was pretty uneventful. A Stanford alum boarded at the very last minute but I didn’t get a chance to talk to him and there were a couple of WSU alums who were trying to chat up an energy drink promoter girl who was friendly but far more interested in figuring out the place to be on a Friday night in downtown Spokane. Upon arrival, I strolled across the street to the conveniently located Ramada which Albert had booked. I love travelling with Albert. I just need to show up and he takes care of everything else. Albert got in much later that night and the plan was to watch the 9am Michigan-Michigan State game in the hotel and then head down to Pullman after it ended.

We got to Pullman about 2.5 hours before kick-off and it was surprisingly quiet for homecoming weekend. We walked past their band and a smash a car(dinal) fundraiser before finding a sportsbar on the fringes of campus where we caught some of the afternoon games. After watching Texas fail in their attempt to cover the spread, we headed to the stadium where there was a small contingent of about 60 Stanford fans tucked away in the visitor’s section including an alum whom I had met on my Alabama trip. The gentlemen sitting next to me informed me that for some reason he had “next to Zhang” scribbled on his tickets. I guess the ticket office must know who I am. For all my initial worries of rain, it was as beautiful a day as one could ask for in Pullman. The last time I was here to watch Stanford beat WSU in overtime (senior year basketball), a snow storm had just passed and another one was on its way so there were no complaints from me. The Martin stadium was pretty small and took a while to fill up but it started to get pretty rowdy at the end of the first half and when their mascot drove in on an ATV – which if anything seems like a safety hazard to me. By the fourth quarter, however, the most interesting thing going on was the fight that broke out in the tailgating section which security did a poor job trying to keep under control.

It was yet another one of our patented slow offensive starts on the road but our defense kept us in the game as the front 4 got pressure and the DBs wrapped up. We were also extremely sloppy, especially on special teams, and dodged a couple of bullets when we recovered our own fumbles. Fortunately, we turned it around in the second half and took the crowd out of the game. I guess it’s good that we’ve had to face some adversity while still blowing teams out and in my opinion there aren’t many teams in the country that are playing complete games no matter what the final score or Sportscenter might tell you, but it would be nice if we could put everything together in the next few games, especially Oregon and Notre Dame. I also got the sense that the staff was experimenting with some plays and by throwing so much in the 4th quarter when we typically run the ball sending a message to future teams that they can’t just completely sell out to stop power.

After the game, we headed back to the sportsbar to watch Oregon-ASU. ASU really blew it at the end of the first half – giving up what was at least a 10 if not 14 point swing with the unsportsmanlike conduct followed by the pick and Oregon touchdown. Full credit to Oregon, however, for not losing a beat with their backups coming in. It’s going to be a great matchup come November 12. Hopefully we can take care of business these next few games to set up a game that is worthy of College Game Day.

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