In a fantastic day for Cardinal fans everywhere, Stanford began the New Year by triumphing over the Michigan State Spartans 3-0 in the 100th Rose Bowl Game, presented by Standard Oil.
In a nod to tradition, this year’s college football showcase was contested under the rules of the first Rose Bowl, played in 1902. These rules, which outlaw the forward pass and the use of anything approaching what coach David Shaw called, “those damn fancy-pants rushes to the outside,” played directly into the hands of the formidable Cardinal offense.
Behind a strong ground-and-pound attack led by senior running back Tyler Gaffney, the Pac-12 champs controlled the clock and imposed their will on the nine Michigan State defenders crowding the line of scrimmage. Meanwhile, these same vintage rules negated Michigan State’s offensive touchdowns, given that they featured a wide receiver running after catching the ball. Fortunately, the Stanford coaching staff made key halftime adjustments and avoided any downfield throws in the second half, relying on their running game in a way that hearkened back to the good old days of 1902, when men were men and women couldn’t vote.
Couch Shaw was ecstatic after the game, calling the performance “an exercise, an experiment if you will, in seeing what we could do without any variation or change in play-calling. It was truly an appropriate homage to the history of this game. We could have done more, maybe played without helmets or punched a Frenchman for looking at us funny, but I was impressed.”
Stanford finishes up an incredible season at 11-2, hoping to build off this momentum next season and solidify themselves as the team to beat in the twentieth-century.