Did you know that Delta Airlines flies nonstop from Hartford to LAX? It's true. It's one of the many tidbits about Hartford's Bradley International Airport that I've learned over the past few months.
This past spring I was a color commentator for the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League for their radio broadcasts on KNBR. Since I live in Connecticut now, this means I've been learning quite a bit about the Nutmeg State's only major commercial airport.
For example, Northwest Airlines offers a nonstop flight from Hartford to Amsterdam (this would have been good to know if we had finished 0-12). Southwest Airlines goes nonstop from Hartford to Las Vegas. This came in handy when I had to call a SaberCat game against the Las Vegas Gladiators, taking off first thing in the morning and landing in Sin City well before the 1:30 p.m. kickoff that afternoon.
But yes, it's possible to go from CT to LA without touching the ground in between. And so, when flying back to the Bay Area for vacation and a buddy's wedding back in July, I found myself on that flight to LAX, where I would change planes and head to San Francisco.
Sure, I could have chosen to stop over in either Atlanta or Cincinnati. Either of those places would have meant a less expensive fare, and more importantly, both airports have Chick-Fil-A. But I intentionally went to Los Angeles instead. And I made sure I got a window seat on the right side of the plane. Why? Because I wanted to see the LA Memorial Coliseum as we passed by it on our final approach. And then, I wanted to boo it.
Yes. That's how much I hate U$C.
So I'm not going to break new ground this week by saying, "I hate U$C." But I'll say something right now that I've never, ever said in a Corner before: Stanford has zero chance of winning this week.
I've never said that sentence publicly before, and I don't like saying it now. Have I felt that way before? Yes. I didn't think the Card had a snowball's chance in Tucson when Stanford headed down there to face preseason Pac-10 (and national title) favorite Arizona in 1999. And I thought Stanford was headed for certain doom when we faced the Pac-10 champion Oregon Ducks up at Autzen in 1995.
Interesting to note that Stanford won both of those games, so maybe I have no point here. Or, maybe I'm mentioning those games to make a point. Who knows?
There's no question, however, that the deck is totally stacked against the Cardinal here, no matter who Stanford's starting quarterback is. After all, since Stanford's last win over the Trojans back on September 29, 2001, U$C has reached heights that not even the most myopic and self-entitled Trojan fan could have thought possible. Meanwhile, the Cardinal and their fans are still just trying to get up off that mat.
How bad has it gotten? A couple weeks ago, I was talking with Carolina Panthers WR Keary Colbert, a former Trojan who made my Pac-10 All Underappreciated Team in 2003. After I told Keary I was a Stanford guy, he laughed and said, "You know we're gonna beat you by fifty, right?" All I could do was shrug and change the subject. That's how bad it's gotten.
And it could get worse this weekend. A young man who has a grand total of three passes for his collegiate career will be making his first-ever start in front of 90,000 Trojan fans. U$C is no longer atop the AP poll (more on this later).
And of course, there's that matter between Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll, who traded trash talk during the spring. After Harbaugh's inspiring but infamous decree that "we bow to no program at Stanford University," it wouldn't surprise me if Carroll showed up to the Coliseum in a General Zod uniform. If there's ever a time (before November 10, anyway) for the Trojans to try to prove a point or two, this would be it.
I still hope I see progress from Stanford this week, especially after the offense took a step back against Arizona State. Tavita Pritchard will have a lot on his hands, but perhaps his skill set is a little more suited to keeping the Trojan defense off balance. And in many ways, U$C's offense is easier to defend than Oregon's is. The Trojans don't rely on gimmicks, and they generally don't do anything too special. They line up and beat you with better players. But while I hope Stanford can compete against U$C, I am certain that they're not going to win.
I won't be on that nonstop flight to Los Angeles this week, so I'll have to settle for booing that damn stadium, that damn band, and the damn horse from 2,527 miles away. Oh, by the way, I never got the chance to boo the Coliseum on our approach to LAX as planned back in July. I forgot about that brown cloud that hangs over that city, completely shrouding the Coliseum, downtown LA, and the Hollywood Hills from view. Typical.
RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS
Defensively, Stanford ranks last in the Pac-10 against the run, next-to-last in total defense, and next-to-last in scoring defense. Still, these guys are being aggressive and flying around, even after the offense puts them in a hole. A-State put up 41 points on the Cardinal last week, but don't put all of that on the defense...
Interesting to see former Arizona State lineman Juan Roque doing the TV broadcast with Ted Robinson and Todd Husak last week. Last time I saw Roque, I was standing in line behind him at the buffet during the 1996 Pac-10 Football Media Day. Back in those days, Roque was listed at 6-foot-8 and 318 pounds. Needless to say, the pickings were pretty slim by the time I got the chance to put stuff on my plate...
The fact that U$C is no longer number one in the AP poll proves one thing: the media is stupid. Do I think LSU is a better team than U$C right now? Honestly, yes, I do. But I don't think a team should lose their number-one ranking until and unless they lose a game on the field. Besides, I watched LSU's game against Tulane last week... the Green Wave defense dominated that entire first half! But I think a lot of voters simply looked at the final scores, saw that LSU beat Tulane 34-9 and that U$C only beat Washington 27-24, and made their decision based on that. Really, when you think about it, it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Trojans' botched punt late in the game that led to a UW touchdown cost them their top ranking. And that's really stupid...
I called my cal spy on Sunday after I learned the Bears were now number three in the polls. He had been to the game in Eugene the day before, and at game's end, he admitted to weeping with joy in the stands. "Is it finally my turn?" he asked. Sigh...
Not a Pac-10 thought, but... big ups to Trent Edwards for leading the Bills to a win in his first start! And big ups to Troy Walters who made a sensational toe-dragging touchdown grab as the Lions beat the Bears. Nice job, fellas... keep making Stanford proud...
Not a Pac-10 thought, but... by 1:38 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday afternoon, the Florida Marlins had outscored 11 of the 14 NFL teams who were also playing at that exact moment. What a collapse by the Mets...
Not a Pac-10 thought, but... I don't like Barry Bonds. Never have. Never will. And I suspect that secretly, behind closed doors, a lot of folks in that organization were popping champagne bottles after Barry walked out of a Giants clubhouse for the last time. But I love the fact that Gilbert Arenas is trying to buy the 756 ball before it gets branded with an asterisk and sent to Cooperstown. Say what you will about Barry, and think what you will about Barry (and many of us have), but leave the ball alone. It's an historical document...
Not a Pac-10 thought, but... I've said this for three years now... Barry's next stop is the Angels. If it can't happen there, you'll never see him in a baseball uniform ever again...
CLARDY'S CORNER INBOX
No e-mails to share this week, but an announcement... if you tried to send an e-mail earlier this season but got it bounced back to you, that issue has been solved. So fire away at firstname.lastname@example.org! Your e-mails are the most fun part of the Corners...
Arizona State @ Washington State. I'll make this short and sweet: other than the fact that this game is in Pullman, where anything can happen, there's really no reason for me to pick the Cougs here. None. I like ASU by 24.
Arizona @ Oregon State. Impressive bounce-back win by the Wildcats last week. Impressive flameout by the Beavers last week. Even so, there are some teams that you just don't feel comfortable picking on the road right now, and Arizona is one of them. Even though I have a gnawing feeling that I might be wrong, I like Oregon State by 12.
Last week: 3-1 (straight-up), 1-2-1 (ATS).
This year: 6-2 (straight-up), 4-3-1 (ATS).
Last year: 21-15 (straight-up), 17-19 (ATS).
Got a thought on this column, on Stanford sports, or anything else in general? Have a different set of expectations for Stanford Football this year? Drop me a line at my Scout.com inbox (username: troyc) or at email@example.com. The best e-mails will be answered in next week's Clardy's Corner Inbox!
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