Luck, Stanford regrouping for Big Game against Cal

BY foxsports • November 15, 2011

Andrew Luck woke up over the weekend with a big-game hangover.

The once clear-cut Heisman Trophy favorite spent most of Sunday watching film of Stanford's 53-30 loss to Oregon the night earlier. The rest of the time Luck made sure teammates had moved on from the season's marquee matchup.

''We joke sometimes about the six-hour rule after games,'' Luck said Monday. ''You should have six hours to celebrate the win. But also six hours to mull over and then flush it.

''It took me a little longer than six hours.''

With dreams of a national championship and Pac-12 title likely shattered, Luck and No. 8 Stanford (9-1, 7-1) will need to regroup quickly for the 114th meeting against California on Saturday night. Not easy considering the buildup - and eventual letdown - versus the Ducks.

Never has Big Game week felt so small.

Since Luck announced in January that he'd return for one more year at Stanford, everything for the program and its star quarterback had been aimed at toppling Oregon - the only team to beat the Cardinal the last two years - and claiming a conference crown and possible BCS championship.

The only way a league title can happen now is if Stanford beats Cal and No. 4 Oregon loses its final two games against Southern California and Oregon State.

''That would be unlikely,'' said Stanford coach David Shaw, who insisted his players are still motivated. ''What a lot of us people out of college forget is 18 to 22 year olds are the most resilient people on the planet. They bounce back a lot of times quicker than we do. These guys are itching to get back on the field again. Not just for the game but for practice.''

About the only thing left to play for - besides pride - is an at-large bid to a BCS bowl.

The Cardinal could still present a strong case to bowl committees - notably the Fiesta and Sugar - for one of those spots, or if Oregon somehow sneaks into the national championship the Cardinal would likely find a way to the Rose Bowl. How it all shakes out will depend on the final records and rankings of other programs.

Regrouping with a rivalry game might be to Stanford's benefit.

Maybe Cal's, too.

The two schools have split the last two games, with the Golden Bears (6-4, 3-4) last winning at Stanford in 2009. Cal is looking to give coach Jeff Tedford a late-season boost after an otherwise average year in Berkeley, and there's nothing bigger for the Bears than winning one of the longest running rivalries in college football.

''Going into this next game it doesn't matter what happed last week,'' Tedford said. ''They'll be a lot of hype and energy out there.''

Maybe not as much as there might have been had Stanford stayed undefeated.

The mood around the Silicon Valley campus has been somber since Oregon blew past the Cardinal. The matchup had been hyped all season and became one of the biggest college football games the pro-saturated Bay Area market had hosted in recent years, and how long the hangover lingers won't be known until the Big Game begins under the lights at Stanford Stadium.

''I think a lot of guys got back to their dorms and were like, `Man, we lost,' safety Michael Thomas said. ''But the next day when we woke up, you know, life goes on.''

NOTES: Shaw said TE Zach Ertz (right knee) is unlikely to play against Cal. ... Stanford WR Chris Owusu (concussions) has been ruled out and it's unlikely he'll play against Notre Dame on Nov. 26. ... Stanford S Delano Howell, who only played the first half against Oregon with a cast around his right hand, is expected to play against the Bears.


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