Roller Coasters and Eating Contests

Stanford kicked off its Rose Bowl adventures on the Cars Land Radiator Springs Racers ride at Disneyland's revamped California Adventure extension, a fitting first reward for a 2012 football season that required a major overhaul to end up at the Magic Kingdom.

After being outgained 385-256 at home by lowly Washington State on October 27, Stanford's trajectory was better aimed for El Paso than the Matterhorn. With Oregon State, Oregon, and UCLA looming, three more losses and a 7-5 finish were both fair bets at the time.

But just like Cars Land revitalized Disney's struggling California Adventure, Kevin Hogan's arrival at the controls of Stanford's offense changed the course of the Cardinal's 2012 season. Down went the Beavers, Ducks, and Bruins (twice). Away went 7-5 nightmares, off to be replaced by the legitimate possibility of 12-2 gridiron grandeur and an opportunity for the Stanford football program to accomplish something that hasn't been done since the days of Indians, Plunkett, and Bunce.

January 1, 2013 will come exactly 41 years after Stanford played its final game as the "Indians" on January 1, 1972. Then, John Ralston's squad upset Bo Schembechler's undefeated Michigan Wolverines, 13-12. After that game, Stanford's last Rose Bowl victory, the old mascot was history. The university referred to its athletic teams as the "Cardinals" for the rest of the decade before becoming the singular color "Cardinal" in 1981. There was a New Years' trip back to Pasadena on the first day of the new millennium, but the journey ended in disappointment at the hands of the very same Barry Alvarez-coached Wisconsin program that is licking its chops (literally, see below) in southern California again this year.

Life After Disneyland: The Beef Bowl
If today's Disneyland trip is emblematic of Stanford's season overhaul, the next signature Rose Bowl event embodies Wisconsin perfectly. The traditional Beef Bowl at Lawry's The Prime Rib, a famous Beverly Hills establishment, will challenge both teams to a carnivorous eating contest for which the Badgers are well-suited. Buoyed by a massive group of offensive linemen In their Rose Bowl appearance last season, Wisconsin devoured 723 pounds of prime rib, far ahead of speedy Oregon's 612-pound intake. Apparently, Chip Kelly's blur attack does not burn calories quickly enough.

With 6-foot-8 guard Rob Havenstein tipping the scales at 342 pounds, the Badgers average 326 pounds across the line of the scrimmage. Stanford's offensive line, which holds its own among the biggest in college football, averages only about 300 pounds. The Rose Bowl will mark the first time the Farm Boys face a team so much heavier than them up front since the dark ages of last decade. That translates into a unique challenge not only on the football field, but also in the Beef Bowl: Last year, 334-pound Wisconsin tackle Travis Frederick finished eight pieces of 13-ounce prime rib.

A note to remember: According to the Los Angeles Times, the team that has eaten the most meat at Lawry's has gone on to win the Rose Bowl 71 percent of the time, though Wisconsin did later fall to the Ducks last year.

Both Disneyland and Lawry's events make for plenty of pregame spectacle, all part of a famous pre-Rose Bowl build-up that Stanford has again earned with its spectacular finish to the 2012 season.

Other Notes and Open Practice
Stanford and Wisconsin players received passes to skip lines at Disneyland, so waiting was not a worry for the Cardinal during this vacation season. Upon arrival at LAX, the team first dropped off its luggage and checked in at the JW Marriott LA Live, next to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Then, the convoy of buses rolled south to Orange County for the Disneyland opening event.

The Cardinal will hold a closed practice tomorrow before heading to Lawry's for the Beef Bowl. They will hold an open practice on Friday from 1:15 to 3:05 p.m. at the Home Depot Center in Carson, a city off the 405 freeway just south of Los Angeles. That will be Stanford's only open practice of Rose Bowl week.

In other news, Shaw expects punter Daniel Zychlinski to be back on the field after he was injured in the Cardinal's regular season finale and missed the PAC-12 title game. That's a significant boost for Stanford, especially considering the fact Zychlinski was one of the team's most valuable players in the win at Oregon.

David Lombardi is the Stanford Football Insider for The Bootleg and FOX Sports Next. Check him out at Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMLombardi.

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