Rose Bowl: Stanford football not looking back at what might have been

Stanford is thrilled to be in the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl and had another fantastic year under David Shaw.

The school won its second straight Pac 12 title, is making its fourth straight BCS bowl appearance and is playing a top-five opponent in Michigan State.

It has to kill some Stanford players and fans, though, to know how close the Cardinal was from playing in the Jan. 6 BCS title game, also at the Rose Bowl.

Stanford lost two games by nine total points. A win against either USC or Utah likely would have put the Cardinal into the BCS title game against Florida State.

“You can look back, and look at the what ifs, but you can’t change the past,” Stanford guard David Yankey said Thursday.

Stanford lost to 10-win USC by a field goal, but the game that will haunt the Cardinal is a six-point Oct. 12 defeat at unheralded Utah.

Stanford lost when it failed twice on third-and-two at the Utah six-yard line. The Cardinal, a power run team, elected to pass twice in that situation instead of run.

“I don’t live with regrets," Shaw said. “I know there’s going to be bumps in the road and a whole bunch of games where they’re on the edge of a knife.”

College football may boast the sharpest knife in all sports.

Two plays for Auburn led to two miracle wins and a berth in the BCS title game. Two plays for Stanford cost the Cardinal a title shot.

“That’s why people love college football,” Yankey said. “A game in August and September can change your season.”

Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren said there will be a time, in the off-season, when the staff will dissect the season.

“We spend a lot of time on self-analysis,” he said.

For now, the focus is on Michigan State.

Shaw says you have to look at the big picture.

"We play a lot of tight, close games and sometimes you can’t win them all,” he said. “But as long as you win more than you lose, and end up in a place like this, all’s good.”

It’s hard to argue with that call.


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