After a wild, turbulent, underwhelming and unprecedented upset by the Arizona Wildcats, Stanford has found their way back in the PAC-12 Championship Game for a second straight year. After the Cardinal’s huge (upset?) win over the Oregon Ducks on November 7th, a game that everyone and I mean EVERYONE thought the Ducks would put up “at least 40 on them”, Stanford had the inside track and controlled their own destiny to host the PAC-12 Championship once again. But after a heart-breaking 17-20 loss in the Coliseum to a USC team who have had their fair share of different emotions this season, Oregon took back control of the PAC-12 North and the Cardinal were in deep trouble to see their streak of 3 straight BCS bowls come to an end.
But who would of thought the word “Wildcat” would be a source of joy for Cardinal fans.
As Stanford started to pound Cal into the ground early in the first half, there was a strange feeling inside of Stanford Stadium. It was if everyone had eyes on a certain score coming out of Tucson, Arizona, but no one was saying anything in fear of jinxing one of the biggest upsets of the year in college football. And as the Wildcats started to pull away with it, the student section started chanting;
A 42-16 victory for the Wildcats meant all Stanford had to was win the Big Game, and they could claim both the Axe and the PAC-12 North, the first time both have been claimed in the same game. Last season, Stanford knew who their opponent was going to be. A victory over UCLA in the final game of the season meant they would host UCLA in the Championship just one week later. This year, after the Cardinal’s 63-13 win against the Golden Bears (the largest margin of victory AND most points ever scored in 116 year history of the Big Game), there were still three teams that could be representing the PAC-12 South.
ASU, UCLA and USC were all still alive for the PAC-12 South, however, Arizona State took care of business in a victory over UCLA and abruptly ended any drama for who would be champion. Now, Arizona State controls who will host the Championship game, if they win next week vs 7-4, Oregon-upsetting Arizona Stanford will be heading to Tempe. If Arizona gets the job done once again, all eyes will be watching in Palo Alto for the second year in a row. Stanford still isn’t guaranteed a BCS bowl, and with no opportunity for an at-large berth like previous seasons, the Cardinal will have to find a way to defeat Sparky one more time this season, the only PAC-12 team that has defeated the Sun Devils this year.
After the finale of that Stanford vs ASU game earlier this year, Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham said to his team “Shake their hands boys, that’s a championship team.” Now, his team will have the chance to dethrone the defending PAC-12 Champs, and reach their first Rose Bowl since 1997.