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Pregame Guesses: Stanford Cardinal Edition

It was supposed to be a battle of the unbeatens, but one team didn't live up to their part of the bargain


Avengers - The American In Me (via lekalekas)

(This week’s video is "The American In Me" by The Avengers recorded live at the Mubahay Gardens. I’ve been reading a really good oral history of the late-70s Bay Area punk scene and all the shows that took place at the Mubahay Gardens. The Avengers, I’m sure you know, were one of San Francisco’s first and best punk rock bands, preceding the Dead Kennedys by a few years. The early SF punk scene was a bit artsy, a bit bohemian, a bit anything goes. In some ways it more closely resembled what was going on in London or at CBGBs in New York City. Call it eclectic. The Avengers would come down to L.A. and bands like X would open for them; the SF scene came together before the L.A. scene. But there was a moment when hardcore got started in Southern California and in a way that’s what some people think about when they think "punk rock." There’s a story I’ve heard a few times about the Circle Jerks playing the Mubahay Gardens. And the SF punks were doing the jump up and down pogo thing and the L.A. fans who made the journey north brought slam dancing with them and basically just tore the place up and kicked major ass. For you math majors, that’s a metaphor. It's also a great song. The Avengers still play really well. I saw them with X and the DKs a year or so ago downtown. Deborah Harry has nothing on Penelope Houston.)

Just thinking out loud …

For me , last week’s Cal game was a bit of a surreal experience.

First of all, I tend to play season seat roulette, taking my chances, buy tickets at the last minute, bargaining with scalpers or people desperately trying to dump ducats near the box office as kickoff time gets closer. I once went to every game in a season without once paying face value. For new Mexico State, I not only managed to go for free, I scored four free tickets to the press box and spent the whole time eating free hot dogs and guzzling Corona in cans.

But for Cal, I made my way over to campus on Friday and picked up a couple of general admission tickets. Mostly, I wanted to see if the game was sold out, which was rumored but never confirmed. It wasn’t sold out, but we did break 80,000 in attendance, which is actually pretty impressive.

One downside to so many people being at the game is we ended up parking literally one mile from the stadium (thank you Google maps app for letting me drop a pin or I’d still be looking for my car). The whole way time passes is sort of weird – you speed over to the stadium, then sit in traffic forever trying to get parked, then have to walk forever to the stadium then stand in an interminable line trying to get through the gate while people in pink windbreakers search carry-on luggage. TSA has nothing on Rose Bowl security.

So, we finally get to our seats in the outer regions of Section 1 (and, btw, I asked the girl selling tickets if she could find something for me on the aisle and she said "yeah, here you go" and she managed to find seats smack dab in the middle of the row, literally the opposite of the aisle.

But the surreal thing is that the Rose Bowl is so vast, when you’re sitting in some of the outer sections, you don’t even feel like you’re at the game. You feel like you’re watching other people at a game. You can’t tell the difference between a three yard run and an eight yard run. It’s so far away, that there is no energy, no connection to what’s happening down on the field. Also, maybe it was the seats or maybe it was just the crowd but I’ve never, ever been around 85,000 people who were so quiet.

Then there was the game itself. Maybe on TV with the announcers and the commentary or perhaps in the game thread it seemed like the game was close at one point. But in the upper deck, the game seemed like an afterthought, like we’d won before the opening kickoff and the outcome was preordained and we were just watching a movie to which we already knew the ending.

Yes, Cal UC Berkeley is that bad.

And, also, we found out at some point during the evening that Stanford had lost their game at Utah. Which, by the way, puts a little more shine on our win in Salt Lake City. So any build up to a battle of the unbeaten was deflated.

And I do feel a little deflated.

All season long I was hoping we wouldn’t get upset so that the game at Palo Alto would be between two undefeated teams. I never really considered that Stanford would lose before we did.

But they did.

And I’m not sure what to make of it.

I didn’t see much of their game against Utah, so I don’t know what happened. Maybe Utah is just that good. Or Stanford was overrated a bit. Or it’s that conference game thing I’ve mentioned a few times, where teams that face each other year in and year out play closer games than their talent suggests.

In any case, I’m a little disappointed that the Cardinal lost. I wanted UCLA to be the first to knock Stanford off as a way of making a statement to the nation that we’re a serious program.

But now that that scenario is off the table, what exactly does tomorrow’s game mean?

I still believe that it’s an important game for us, maybe even more so now that the Cardinal lost. Because losing to the number two ranked team in the country means one thing, but losing to the number thirteen team in the country. And, btw, is it an indication that the Pac 12 still doesn’t get national respect when Stanford loses once and plummets out of the Top Ten?

Until this very moment, I wasn’t sure how I felt about tomorrow’s game and suddenly it occurred to me that I feel pretty good. I’d been worrying about the size and strength of Stanford, but it just hit me how quick we are on defense. We don’t have a ton of size up front, but our front seven is quick as shit, and strong where they have to be. I think our defense is going to create real problems for them.

Offensively, it’s all on Hundley. He needs to be accurate with his throws and just as importantly he needs to be a real threat to run. In fact, I’ll make a prediction: If Hundley rushed for 50 yards or more, we win the game. If he doesn’t, we might not.

Let’s hope we win this so I can use all of my "battle of the unbeaten" stuff next week. Because the worst thing about Stanford’s loss to Utah is that it messed up the Guesses column.

And, with that, here are your Pregame Guesses, Stanford Cardinal edition:

  1. How many rushing yards will Brett Hundley have in the game?
  2. What number will be higher, Thomas Duarte's catches or Ka'imi Forbath Fairbairn field goals (or Cassius Marsh's personal fouls)?
  3. Who will have more tackles tomorrow, Shayne Stov or Eric Kendricks?