Clardy's Corner: Changing Planes in Hell

There's an old saying in the South: whether you're going to Heaven or Hell, you still have to change planes in Atlanta. This week, if Stanford wants to go to Pasadena (or New Orleans…or Miami…or Glendale, Arizona), they'll have to change planes in Hell.

Look, it's no secret…I don't like the Weenies, and the Weenies don't like me. That's cool. Unless I'm bagging on U$C, it's not my job as a senior columnist for The Bootleg to get those people on my side. Accordingly, I feel very comfortable in saying this: Berkeley is Hell. Period. No good Cardinalmaniac sees that town any other way.

Yes, it's a far, far better college town than Palo Alto is. And yes, that place actually has some character to it, unlike that bland burg just outside the Eucalyptus Curtain. But, much like Oski, the city looks like it hasn't washed since 1968. And it's impossible to make a left turn.

Sure, Memorial Stadium is a great place to watch a football game. Once you are actually in your seat, the atmosphere at that place can be tough to beat. But just getting to your seat in the first place is a major ordeal. Looking for parking? Good luck. Wanna tailgate? Forget it. Making your way to the stadium's front door? Hire a Sherpa. Want to visit a concession stand? Starve. Need to use the restroom? Hold it.

But once you get to your seat, you're fine. Well, unless you're wearing a red shirt, that is.

Before we look at Stanford's next trip to that seedy underworld known as Berkeley, let's jump into the Wayback Machine for a moment and crank it to November 18, 2000. Gas was $1.91 a gallon. The TV show Survivor was brand new. And two weeks after Election Day, we still didn't know who the 43rd President of the United States was going to be.

Stanford was at Memorial Stadium that day, knocking heads with the Bears in the 103rd Big Game. With the score tied at 23, Stanford's Luke Powell tightroped down the sideline for a 75-yard score that put the Card ahead with less than five minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The Bears eventually answered with the game-tying score with one minute left.

But after cal missed a field goal on their overtime possession, Stanford QB Randy Fasani suckered in the Bear defense with a play fake to FB Casey Moore, who popped through the other side of the defense unseen. Fasani lobbed it to Moore for the game-winner. Stanford 36, cal 30. Good night, thanks for coming, and drive back to Stanford safely with The Axe.

Of course, that's the last time Cardinalmaniacs have driven home from Hell with The Axe firmly secured. In fact, outside of a seventh straight win over the Bears in 2001 and a still slightly shocking win in 2007, Stanford hasn't gone anywhere with The Axe at all.

This year, Stanford has already visited a few places that have seemed like Hell over the years. The results so far? First win at Sun Devil Stadium since 1999. First win at the Rose Bowl since 1996. First win at Notre Dame Stadium since 1992.

Now, Stanford is looking for its first win in the 510 area code in ten years. But this won't be easy. For anyone. Visiting that place this Saturday will be Hell on Stanford fans, and the Weenies will be too glad to make sure of it.

Playing this game could be Hell on the Stanford players. If you thought that Arizona State game was difficult, you ain't seen nothing yet. The Bears have done an outstanding job at home this year. Most signs point to this game being a street fight that could test the Cardinal like they have not been tested so far.

But two bits of good news emerge. First is the fact that the Cardinal are battle-tested. We can all thank Arizona State for that. In many ways, I think the way that game played out (and more importantly, its ultimate outcome) was the very best thing that could have happed to Stanford, especially at this point in the season.

If you tried to make the case that this—not the results against Arizona, Washington, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, or UCLA—was Stanford's most impressive win of the season to date, I would not argue. It wasn't the 50-point blowout that impresses the voters who merely scan the day's final scores and draw all their conclusions from there. It wasn't the kind of outcome that causes the BCS computers to crash. So what? Digging deep and using everything you've got to beat a dangerous team on the road late in the season tends to impress me more than stomping some hapless team at home.

And second, in a street fight, I like Stanford's chances. You do realize that the Cardinal beat Arizona State mostly on the strength of their defense, right? If your defense is on point, and if your guys are being physical on both sides of the ball, you're going to put yourself in a position to do well. Even in Hell.

Stanford players, fans, and supporters will be spending this Saturday afternoon in Hell. So will I. Well, actually, I will be on a plane coming back from Tampa during the Big Game, so I will have no idea what's happening until I get back to Pittsburgh and watch a recording of the game. If that isn't Hell, I don't know what is.

Oh well…at least I don't have to change planes in Atlanta.

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When you do the right things in close games, you're LSU. When you do the wrong things in close games, you're Arizona State…

Don't look now, but Harold Bernard is starting to become a factor. And that seems to be a good thing…

I feel bad for the kid because he's such a great linebacker. And when his head is on straight, I don't think there is a better, more physical linebacker in the league. But there's a reason why I've given Vontaze Burfict the nickname "15 Yards"…

That said, Burfict didn't get Doug Baldwin's facemask. I don't think any other player has that call made against them…

Show me another QB who has the strength to unleash a pass that travels 51 yards in the air and the accuracy to still hit his man in stride…all while he is falling straight down to the ground. And no, Kyle Boller throwing a pass 75 yards from his knees does not count…

Wow. Where has that been for the last three years, Washington State?

Quote of the Week, courtesy Oregon State LB Keith Pankey: "We can't play like this anymore. If we do, we're screwed." Considering that the Beavers still have U$C, Stanford, and Oregon on the schedule, they may be screwed no matter what…

Radio programming note… the Stanford Daily Updates now come your way twice a day! Join yours truly every weekday at 12:20 p.m. and again at 4:20 p.m. on XTRA Sports 860 in San Francisco…

Not a Pac-9 thought, but… nice to hear my man Ted Robinson on the call for Versus' broadcast of San Diego State-TCU…

Not a Pac-9 thought, but… speaking of Versus, I was flipping through the channels earlier on Saturday afternoon and I stumbled onto the first game of their tripleheader. The commentators were conducting a halftime interview with one of the head coaches, who told them, "I don't know what happened. Our offense was kinda sleepwalking out there." Some things just never change with Buddy Teevens…

Not a Pac-9 thought, but… one week after Michigan and Illinois combine for 132 points, Wisconsin drops 83 on Indiana. What in the name of Woody Hayes is going on in the Big Ten?

Not a Pac-9 thought, but… don't feel bad, Todd Haley…I'm a Denver Bronco fan and I don't want to shake Josh McDaniels' hand, either…

Not a Pac-9 thought, but… even though I wasn't really around for most of the glory years of that rivalry, as a football history nerd, few things get me geeked up quite like "Oakland Raiders vs. Pittsburgh Steelers"…

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CLARDY'S CORNER INBOX Got a thought on this Corner? Drop me a line at my inbox (username: troyc)... or e-mail me at

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Boy, I'm not having a particularly good season, am I?

UCLA @ Washington. Jake Locker is back for the Huskies. More important, the Huskies defense seemed to find itself during the first half against Oregon. I don't think Jake will be much of a difference, but I think that Dawg defense just might be. I like Washington by 8.

U$C @ Oregon State. That sound you heard last week was me fleeing from the Oregon State bandwagon like George Costanza fleeing from a fire. I like U$C by 15.

Last week: 1-2 (straight-up), 1-2 (ATS).
This year: 17-10 (straight-up), 12-15 (ATS).
Last year: 25-11 (straight-up), 19-16-1 (ATS).

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Troy Clardy hosts the Stanford Daily Update, airing every weekday at 12:20pm and 4:20pm on Cardinal Sports Network flagship radio station XTRA Sports 860 in San Francisco, and available in podcast form at If you're in Pittsburgh, you can also hear him weekends on 93.7 The Fan.

Clardy's Corner appears Wednesdays during the college football regular season on You can also check him out online at, or e-mail him at

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