A year ago, it was No. 5 Stanford blaring the music and celebrating amongst the roses. But this year, the Cardinal stood on the other side of things. After falling to No. 4 Michigan State Wednesday afternoon in the Rose Bowl, players quickly packed their bags and headed to the busses, leaving behind a quiet, somber locker room devoid of rose petals and confetti.
"You play the game to get these opportunities and have these games, so to lose is incredibly difficult, and to win at the same time is exhilarating," said senior linebacker Shayne Skov. "There’s no greater high than achieving that kind of level as a team. So it’s difficult. We’re happy with the way we played, but it definitely hurts. It’s not easy to lose."
The Cardinal was favored coming into the game. They traveled only a short distance down to Southern California and it was expected to be somewhat of a home game. But the number of Spartan fans far outnumbered the red in the stands at the Rose Bowl and Stanford faced a hostile crowd.
It was a brutal crowd, a brutal defense and overall a brutal loss.
But disappointment aside, the Cardinal is going to be fine. Two-straight trips to the Rose Bowl show where the program is. The Andrew Luck years are gone and so is the Jim Harbaugh era, but the type of play from when those two were in Palo Alto hasn’t decline at all.
The team has now been to four-straight BCS bowls, displaying remarkable continuity in the program.
"I want to say what I said in the locker room, which is our group of seniors, it’s the most accomplished group of football players to ever go through Stanford University," said head coach David Shaw. "Regardless of today’s outcome, that’s just the truth; that’s a fact. When you talk about the best teams of the BCS era, you have to mention Stanford University — you have to. Four-straight BCS games, 11 (wins), four-straight years — itâs rare, rare company.
Cousins Comments on his Successor
Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is no stranger to bowl game upsets. It was only two years ago that Cousins led Michigan State to a win over highly-touted Georgia in the Outback Bowl. But there have been doubts about the ability of current quarterback Connor Cook to do the same.
Cook silenced those doubters Wednesday afternoon and drew favorable reviews from Cousins.
"I think he did a lot of good things and at the end of the day, itâs about winning and he won the game," Cousins said. "He’s still a young quarterback, he’s got a few years ahead of him and he’s done a lot of good things to give the Spartan fans a lot to be excited about in the future."
Big 10 Cursed No Longer?
The last time a Big 10 team won a Rose Bowl game was only four years ago when Ohio State topped Oregon in 2010. But before that, you would have to go back another 10 years to Wisconsin’s 2000 win over Stanford.
But Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio warns against saying that the Big 10 curse has officially been lifted.
"We’ve got a one-game winning streak," Dantonio said. "Obviously, it’s a big step. I thought we played a quality opponent, we had the banner of the Big 10 Conference when we came here as their champions and I’m excited about the fact that we were able to deliver."