Stanford Loss Buries CFP Hopes: Time to Bear-y the Hatchet
My eyes open. It’s 6AM on Sunday morning. The sting of reality invades my whole body. My stomach churns in familiar dread. Lungs constrict and breathing is both shallow and labored. Brain searches the archives to remember: “Did I dream it, or is this real life?” The telltale sore throat brings me back to reality, and I let out a pained groan as I remember the events of not 24 hours earlier. The missed tackles, fumbled snaps, missed field goal, and broken-up 2-point conversion.
Shoulda, coulda, woulda.
In the grainy morning light, I remember it all. I feel sad and disappointed, and something else… hollow? I take a few moments to sit with all of those emotions and physical sensations before telling myself to get a grip. “It’s just sports,” I tell myself. And with everything else happening in this world this week, it’s important that I acknowledge that it’s just sports. But on Sunday morning, for a few moments, I mourned Stanford Football. The Stanford loss to Oregon, for all intensive purposes, ended the relevance of their 2015 season.
Part of the grieving process is thinking about all of the things that could’ve been. Last week, Stanford had an outside chance to make the College Football Playoff (CFP). This week, Stanford has dropped to #11 in the College Football Playoff Poll, and while not technically out of the picture, the opportunity is surely gone.
Last year, I wrote an article called Stanford Losses That Haunt Us detailing the three Stanford losses that were particularly hard for me to swallow. On Sunday morning, these words have never been truer:
“It is excruciatingly painful to know you were *so close* and if this had happened, or this other thing hadn’t happened, you’d be the winner. Those are the games that stay with you, the ones that haunt you, the ones that have you making this noise: “Arrrrrggghhhnrrrrllll” about once an hour, on the hour, until your next win. These are the games that have you drowning your feelings in queso and chips.”
Stanford had ample opportunities to win the game against Oregon last Saturday, but the fact of the matter is that they didn’t. Oregon executed their game plan and Stanford didn’t execute theirs. The Stanford offense that looked so fresh and in sync last week, looked inexperienced, stale, and predictable. At the end of the day, Oregon made more use of their 18 minutes of possession than Stanford did in twice as much time.
It’s no longer 6 AM on Sunday morning, and it’s time to move on. J.K. Rowling said, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
I agree, it’s Big Game Week, so let’s “grin and bear it.” There’s still a lot to play for, and Stanford has one more shot to win the PAC-12 north.
Cal comes to the Farm on Saturday, looking to play spoiler, a familiar role for a familiar foe. Despite being the most meaningful Big Game in years, the game has unfortunately been relegated to the “I don’t give a crap” timeslot of 7:30 PM pacific (or, as my husband calls it, the last opportunity for #PAC12AfterDark). With a win, Stanford plays for the PAC-12 championship for the third time in four years, and perhaps has a slim (really, really slim) chance at staying in the CFP race. A loss would be a sad end to what looked like it would be one of the most successful seasons of the David Shaw era.
Will Stanford power past the Bears, or will Cal finally add some color footage to their highlight reel? I kid, I kid, Cal fans. Let’s “Bear-y the hatchet.”