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The Authoritative Stanford-Kansas State Game Review

I attended Friday’s contest, braving Stanford’s labyrinthine traffic logistics (are you telling me two bored Stanford sophomores couldn’t solve their last mile problem with a hacked Waze program?) to be generously rewarded with 50 yard line, first row upper deck seats (courtesy of Sailor Ripley) to watch Stanford take on Kansas State. Besides Sailor’s good company, we were joined by a former Stanford OL and wrestler who was exactly as good a dude as you’d expect a former Stanford OL to be. Good seat mates are 80% of the battle for enjoyable game-watching.

Cardinal. Wildcats. Will this bitter natural rivalry between Silicon Valley and the remote Comanche Plains ever be quelled? The hostility in the stadium was palpable as Kansas State and Stanford fans wished each other “Good game!” I mouthed quiet thanks that I’d smuggled in brass knucks and security whistle in case things jumped off.

Naturally, the game gave me a Fundamentalsgasm. Snyder. Shaw. Careful, understated preparation. Well-drilled technique. Oh God, look at that arc block. Low pad levels. Was that tight end release clean or what? Execution. The proper pursuit angles. So many players named Tanner.

After the final gun, Bill Snyder informed David Shaw that he is his biological grandfather and both men wept tearlessly and poignantly. “I’d always dreamed it was so, Bill. I knew it in my heart.” Then both men vowed never to speak again for their emotional display had been gross. Such is the way of these men.

Nothing beats the vibrant electricity of a Palo Alto crowd, particularly given that the students aren’t back in school yet. Apparently, smart kids roll into school sometime in mid September while state university cretins like me were tricked into an August reporting date so that we could meet with our probation officers and receive remedial reading tutoring.

Mind you, Stanford is ranked #8 in the preseason, have won three of the last five Pac 12 titles, it’s their season opener against a solid opponent...and there were plenty of available seats. If Raj and the rest of the guys from the Applied Robotics dorm (crazy Xien Hu, @TranscedentCodeHackr1, Sebastian and Inveterate Masturbator Dave), had been there, the stands would’ve been rocking. But it was not to be. I was disappointed Stanford didn’t use simple hologram technology to fill out the stadium.

I guess Coachella is a better school than Stanford.

KSU’s fans were there in full force. As much as I want Texas to forsake the Big 12, I’d miss Kansas State and their salt-of-the-earth sensibilities. They always pull for their guys with full throat, deck themselves in purple from head to toe and cheer every four yard off tackle run like maniacs. Really nice people.

All Kansas State fans give off the vague sense that they’ve just eaten a casserole.

Stanford’s new stadium is the opposite of today’s mega-gridiron church brothel displays - there’s isn’t a bad seat in the house, it’s built to serve the consumer rather than the advertisers, the rows and seats are generous and the concessions and concourses reminded me of a 5A Texas High School game. I felt uneasy. Something was missing, other than their fans. Then I realized that no one was actively trying to attack my wallet, ears, eyes or disturb my general peace of mind.

There’s even a prime strip of upper deck end zone under the scoreboard and video screen that’s simply an open field of turf for kids to play on. It should’ve been roped off, called The Krazy Kardinal Kidz Zone, demanded a $25 entrance fee and mercilessly hawked $37 dollar Christian McCaffrey bobble heads and $17 fountain drinks. Nope. Just a big empty turf strip in prime game viewing area with kids playing tackle football and wrestling. Just kidding, they were playing hackeysack and texting each other.

As for the game itself, Stanford won a pretty competitive 26-13 contest.

The Wildcats are better than the sum of their parts and they scrapped to the end, Jesse Ertz will be a capable QB, they have enough talent to be dangerous, they’re coached up and the defense is lively (I like NT Geary, DE Willis and LB Moore in their front 7).

Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey is even more impressive in person. He’s Stanford’s primary rusher, pass catcher, punt returner and kick returner. He dropped 126 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 22 carries, caught seven balls and brought a punt back 97 yards for a touchdown only to have it called back for an incidental hold. Yes, McCaffrey fielded a punt on his own three yard line in traffic. David Shaw tongue lashed him brutally on the sideline for his lapse in judgement. “Ummm, nice run Christian.”

McCaffrey’s gift is his ability to reach full speed in one step and his startling cutback ability. And surprising durability. David Shaw puts a load on his back that would earn animal cruelty charges for a Central Park draft horse.

Overall, the tasteful, understated nature of the stadium disgusted me. During lulls in the action, they allowed crowd noise, band music or dignified silence to fill the void rather than sponsor each dead second with a corporate promotion. I’m not sure how you can end a quarter or have a television time out without the ringing gong of Taco Bell’s sponsorship and having a sweaty man in a burrito outfit race a chalupa at midfield, but Stanford is doing it.

My only explanation is that Silicon Valley must not know how to market useless things at a steep mark-up.