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October 16, 2012The Big Game in October?
Stanford coach David Shaw summed up how most Bay Area college football fans feel about the drastic change in tradition in eight words. "I don't like it," he said. "I think it's weird."
It's also reality and Shaw isn't about to let a midseason meeting with Cal alter the importance of the rivalry.
"I think it's different, but at the same time, the Big Game week is always a snapshot in time," he said. "You don't worry about what happened before or what's going to happen afterwards. This week is its own entity."
Stanford will play its first game in Cal's newly remodeled Memorial Stadium Saturday at noon in a game that can be seen nationally on Fox.
For the Cardinal, it'll be an opportunity to pick up its first road win after a pair of dismal performances on the road. In losses at Washington and Notre Dame, Stanford was held without an offensive touchdown and likely feels it should have come out victorious.
The loss to Notre Dame stings even more thanks to a controversial ending, which saw running back Stepfan Taylor score what appeared to be a potential game-tying touchdown in overtime only for Big East replay officials to rule otherwise.
Their official ruling remains somewhat of a mystery. Taylor wasn't ruled short due to forward progress - if that was the case, the play could not have been reviewed, by rule.
The head referee did not state there was a lack of visible evidence, either - if that was the case, it should have been explained.
Instead, fans, players and coaches were left wondering exactly what happened.
Like every week, Shaw submitted a review of the officiating to the Pac-12 office, which included questions and concerns. He did not divulge exactly what was included, but it is clear he took issue with the final play.
That said, not surprisingly, he's ready to move on.
"Some people would have said, sitting here at 4-2 would be great based on what we lost (roster wise)," Shaw said. "I know it feels differently because the two games we lost are two games we could have won. Could have done some things differently in those games to pull out a victory, but sitting here at 4-2 in the thick of our conference race is a good place for us right now."
The Play, revisited: It's been nearly 30 years since the Stanford band was on the field and the most famous play in college took place in Berkeley.
Shaw doesn't remember what age he was when he first saw The Play, but does remember being blown away.
"That's happens on the schoolyard. That doesn't happen in major college football," he said. "I just remember being amazed over the years seeing the contentiousness over that play from both sides and what better way to end it with someone on the band getting hit.
"It's one of those plays that - so many plays have happened since then that have been similar, but none are in the category of that play. It's iconic for college football."
"There is a significant portion of those of us here at Stanford that don't believe that play should have continued," Shaw said. "That there was a knee was down, that one of the laterals was forward, not back. That's never going to change and I think it only adds to the lore of that play."
Montgomery still doubtful: Sophomore wide receiver Ty Montgomery is expected to miss his second straight game.
"I would say doubtful, still," Shaw said. "He's starting to back on that progression to get back on the field, but until we see him do something football related it's going to be tough for him to play."
Carter's playing time increases: True freshman corner back Alex Carter has slowly seen his role increase and that's a trend that'll likely continue.
"He's kind of been playing a little bit more every game," Shaw said. "We believe the sky is the limit for him. He'll make the typical freshman mistakes every once in awhile."