Zimmerman: Root for Oregon, not Auburn, Stanford fans

Nov. 16, 2010, 1:31 a.m.

I have to admit: I’m having difficulty writing this column with fingers that currently feature mere remnants of nails and mauled cuticles.

Last weekend’s game against Arizona State was horrifying. A team with just two wins against FBS opponents nearly ended Stanford’s BCS dreams and sent a shockwave through Cardinal fans that screamed, “The season ain’t over yet!”

I was fortunate enough to have been in Tempe for the defensive slugfest and was thus deprived of the world-class television commentary that my friends back at school described as “awful,” “homer” and “hilarious.”

What I did catch wind of was that those watching the Stanford game on TV were also tuned in to the surprising thriller between No. 1 Oregon and California, a game that should have been decided after two quarters but came down to just two points. My girlfriend let me know that the majority of the people she was watching the game with were cheering for Cal to come away victorious.

I understand the logic. Our second-half implosion in Eugene is what’s preventing us from competing for a spot in the national title game. The Ducks ruined our mightiest football dreams, so watching them lose to an unranked motley crew like Cal is sweet revenge.

You know what’s even sweeter? Spending the holidays in Pasadena instead of San Antonio, Texas.

For the football illiterate, the BCS makes no sense. For those fluent in the language of the game, it makes even less sense. But you don’t need to understand the formula to correctly serve your role as a Stanford football fan.

Here’s the deal. We aren’t going to play for a national championship. Is the Cardinal mathematically eliminated? No, but neither am I from securing the Lakers’ starting point guard job. What we want is a berth in the Rose Bowl, a game that we haven’t visited since 2000 and haven’t won since 1972. That was 18 years before I came into the world.

To make this happen, Oregon needs to win out. Unless there’s another drug/frat theft scandal or mass exodus of players to Ole Miss’s Park and Recreation Management graduate program, the Ducks won’t lose again.

The team that needs to lose is No. 2 Auburn, whose Heisman frontrunner quarterback Cam Newton is caught in a whirlwind of controversy. The Tigers have admittedly been impressive this season, but they still need to travel to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama, the reigning national champion and a team that, despite two losses, can still beat anyone in the nation.

If Auburn loses, it will open up a spot in the title game for non-qualifying schools Boise State and TCU. We just need one of those two to compete for the championship, and if—and it still is a HUGE if—Stanford wins out, the Card will fill Oregon’s void in the Rose Bowl.

So if you royally screwed up your cheering last weekend, you can redeem yourself in the final few weeks of the college football season. Love the Ducks. Cherish them, pray for their success, do whatever needs to be done to ensure that their potent offense doesn’t self-destruct in the final game of the season against an Oregon State team that was just pummeled by Washington State.

Do the exact opposite to Auburn. If you know voodoo, go to town. On Nov. 26, cheer for Alabama like Alabama cheers for NASCAR. For just one day, take back the hexes you put on Mark Ingram last year as he stole a Heisman from Toby and the Farm. We love the Crimson Tide.

But most importantly, cheer for the Cardinal. Even if you haven’t been to a single game this season and can’t distinguish Andrew Luck from Andrew Bynum, it’s never too late to start. Read Dan Bohm’s column from yesterday to understand just how important this weekend’s game is with Cal, and know that even if Stanford wins by four touchdowns, the season finale against Oregon State at home is no gimmie. If the Card is 10-1, any excuses that have been used in past games for empty seats at Stanford Stadium will no longer be valid.

I understand that it’s difficult to build a football culture in just two years and that, in Silicon Valley, it’s hard to really grasp the importance of football at an academic institution like Stanford. But a Rose Bowl appearance comes with benefits that would trickle down into every nook and cranny of this university. It’s a priceless experience for a budding program.

The Alamo Bowl is not, and a return trip to Texas this year would be a devastating finish to a magical season.

Let’s celebrate the New Year with a Rose Bowl victory.

Zach Zimmerman is busting out his green and yellow and learning voodoo. Tell him what you’re doing to help the Card at zachz “at”stanford.edu.

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