Okay, the 2007 college football season is officially in the Twilight Zone. Tonight, Stanford, my alma mater and a school whose football team likely possesses the most lopsided ratio of brains to football skills of any team on the planet, beat arch rival and No. 2 (or No. 1) ranked USC 24-23 at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
The victory snapped the Trojans’ 35-game winning streak at home, dating back to 2001 when, yes, the Cardinal last beat the Trojans. Stanford was a 40-point underdog. Yeah, forty. ( Unbelievable.
There were myriad subplots to this name – not the least of which was the bit of trash-talking by Stanford rookie coach Jim Harbaugh, which began almost before the new Cardinal coach had gotten a key to his new office. He told reporters he’d herd that USC coach Pete Carroll would leave following the 2007 season. (Carroll denied it saying Harbaugh had not checked with him about career moves.” ) Then at media day, Harbaugh said with a sarcastic tone: “There is no question in my mind that USC is the best team in the country and may be the best team in the history of college football.”
Harbaugh didn’t back down from his comments in the days leading up to the contest that was to be no-contest. But in a sly twist he also said: “We bow to no man. We bow to no program here at Stanford University.”
Coach arm-wrestling makes for good copy. But this is real: The Cardinal’s starting QB was out of the game after suffering a seizure last Sunday while watching former teammate – and now Buffalo Bills rookie QB p- Trent Edwards beat the New York Jets. (I am not making this up.) That left starting duties to sophomore Tavita Pritchard. The last time Pritchard started a game he was in high-school. In college, he’d thrown a total of four passes.
Tonight, his numbers (11-for-30, 147 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) weren’t particularly impressive. But this was: Trailing 23-16, the Cardinal had fourth and-ten on the USC 10-yard-line with :50 left. Pritchard had just throw two successive incomplete passes and. At the snap he back-peddled to avoid a USC assault, lofted the ball towards the left corner of the end zone and hit WR Mark Bradford (whose father passed away last week) for the game-winner. Add the extra point, and you had the biggest upset in Pac-10 football history. Some even called it the biggest upset in college football history. Unbelievable.
Lest you wonder whether Pritchard was just an out-of-nowhere wonder, consider this: His uncle, and the man who tutored him as a child for hours at a time? Jack (“The Throwin’ Samoan”) Thompson, the former All-America QB at Washington State. Ya gotta love it, especially during this wacky season
The only downside of this is that if Florida upsets LSU tonight, Cal could be No. 1. Ugh.
Nephew Tavita (top) and Uncle Jack