Stanford Cardinal

Once be-all, end-all, Big Game now just friends-and-alumni-only party

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USATSI

Once be-all, end-all, Big Game now just friends-and-alumni-only party

The 97th Big Game is upon us, and that means you scratching your head and asking, “What? Already?”

Cal and Stanford meet for the 120th time, and as is their custom, only one of the two teams is good. Indeed, Stanford has owned this game for most of the last three and a half decades (they are 10-22-1 since 1984, and has won the last seven game in succession by an average score of 40-18).

Indeed, since 1975, the two teams have had winning records at the same time only five times, a yin-and-yang relationship that has no real logic to it.

But in a changing world and an increasingly professional-sports-driven region, the thing that truly reduced the Big Game from a big event to a friends-and-alumni-only party was the decision to move the game around to accommodate other scheduling issues. It used to be safe the week before Thanksgiving, only rarely straying from its comfortable pocket between November 17 and 23.

Once it had to adjust to demands like the Notre Dame game and the Pacific-12 Conference television demands, the Big Game became just part of the schedule rather than the be-all and end-all of the season. And while true believers like Stanford head coach David Shaw, who has proven after Stanford down to his last molecule by not entertaining NFL jobs, still find it an essential highlight of each season, the more casual fan has moved on to other pastimes.

This is partly due to the transient nature of the modern graduate, but also due to college football’s recent playoff-or-bust mentality, of which the only sniff the Bay Area is likely to have is next year’s championship game at Levi’s Stadium, The Stadium That Creature Comforts Forgot.

But enough about why the Big Game isn’t actually “big.” The truth is, it’s big enough for what it needs to be, and maybe that is its true historical value. The last time Cal and Stanford finished 1-2 in the conference was 1937, so maybe this game, in which Stanford is 7-3 and Cal is 5-5, is about what it is supposed to be.

Something fun for the folks already in the tent.

Stanford steamrolls Rice 62-7 in Australia to start 2017 season

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AP

Stanford steamrolls Rice 62-7 in Australia to start 2017 season

BOX SCORE

SYDNEY -- Bryce Love proved he could fill in quite nicely as Christian McCaffrey's replacement at Stanford, scoring a touchdown and rushing for 180 yards to lead the No.14 Cardinal to a 62-7 victory over Rice on Sunday in the Sydney College Football Cup.

Love, installed as the No. 1 player in the backfield after McCaffrey was drafted in the first round by the Carolina Panthers, had 13 carries, including a 62-yard burst through the Rice line on Stanford's opening play from scrimmage. He didn't play much after the middle of the third quarter.

Cameron Scarlett, a redshirt freshman who also moved up in the Stanford pecking order, had three touchdowns, all rushing, and finished with 68 yards from nine carries. He also had one 56-yard pass reception.

The Cardinal, were 31-point favorites. They led 38-0 at halftime and scored touchdowns on their first four possessions.

Rice, trailing 55-0, finally broke its scoreless drought with six minutes remaining on running back Austin Walker's 23-yard touchdown run.

THE TAKEAWAY

STANFORD: Quarterback Keller Chryst, who tore the ACL in his right knee in December in the Sun Bowl, showed no sign of the injury, although he did get up slowly and appeared to favor his knee after being sacked in the second quarter. Chryst finished with 14 completions in 24 attempts for 253 yards and two TDs before Ryan Burns and later K.J. Costello took over with Stanford leading 45-0. Costello scored the final Stanford TD on a 25-yard run.

RICE: Redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Glaesmann won the starting job and had a very difficult beginning to his college career. Starting his first play from scrimmage on the Rice 10-yard line, Rice was hit for a delay of game and false start and the Owls later punted from deep in their end zone. Glaesmann was 7 for 18 for 69 yards.

UP NEXT

STANFORD: after a week off, plays at Pac-12 favorite USC on Sept. 9

RICE: The Owls also have a week off before playing the University of Texas at El Paso in El Paso, also on Sept. 9.

Memory of the late Bob Murphy will live on the heads of those who heard him

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STANFORD.COM

Memory of the late Bob Murphy will live on the heads of those who heard him

Bob Murphy, who was the voice of Stanford athletics when such titles truly mattered in the Bay Area, died Tuesday after a long fight with Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 86.

Murphy was viscerally connected to the university in ways that were once in vogue across the nation but are now reserved only to the Midwest and Southeast. He was a walking ambassador for the school’s athletic history, a familiar face to the army of alums who linked to his voice and presence early and ultimately grew old with him, even when coaches and players and athletic directors came and went with unsettling frequency.

And while his time as the alternate face to Hoover Tower eventually faded, he was still Murph – to be honored and respected by all generations, even the ones who never heard him or saw him. If anyone below the age of 25 asked about him, he was spoken of with the reverence reserved for architectural structures or hundred-year-old trees. He belonged to the place, and the place belonged to him.

He mattered at Stanford, because Stanford is an insular community, watching the world outside with a palpable sense of “Thank God we’re safe in here.” He attended the school, he worked as its sports information director, and he was the radio voice who fought for Stanford when only a few people were listening. He had proven his devotion decades ago, until his devotion became part of the background noise and scenery.

And he didn’t even leave after he became ill, and then absent. Only the most successful coaches and athletes get to attain that omnipresent aura in college athletics, and in truth, Murphy reached more people in the community than any coach or player the school has ever had, simply by being at the place, and of the place, longer and more happily than anyone.

Sometime soon, we suspect, he will be remembered with a statue, either near the football stadium or near Maples Pavilion. He will be bronzed, wearing a polo shirt with the S-with-the-interlocking-tree and glasses wedged against the bridge of his nose. He will be seated, with a desk before him and microphone perched atop it, and there will be a plaque with a Wikipedia-ized list of his contributions.

But without the voice, it will be incomplete. That will have to be recreated inside the heads of those who heard it most often, and cared most what words it carried. It is there where Bob Murphy’s memory will thrive – as someone who defined Stanford in ways that no marketing campaign ever could.