Playing in California to end the season is nice, winning in California to end the season, would be better. Lets assess that possibility.
On October 2, Stanford defeated #3, at the time Oregon 31-24 to raise their record to 3-2 and all was looking up in Palo Alto.
Since then Stanford has lost 6 straight, a season in shambles.
This week, as the Irish come visiting, they have nothing to lose, in fact this is Stanford’s “bowl game”. A proud program looking to salvage something from a once promising season.
And playing in California, where alternating each year between Stanford and USC, the Irish have closed out their season since 1998, has not been easy.
In fact, in those games played in California since Brian Kelly came to town the Irish are just 5-5. And against the Stanford Cardinal, Brian Kelly teams have been 1-4 while visiting the State of California.
In 2011 #6 Stanford and Andrew Luck took out the 22nd ranked Irish who were led that day by Andrew Hendrix 28-14.
In 2013 #8 Stanford intercepted Tommy Rees late and held on to a 27-20 victory
In 2015 the #6 Irish were knocking on the door for a playoff berth but Deshone Kizer, Josh Adams and Will Fuller fell short on a last second field goal 38-36.
In 2017 the #8 Irish and Brandon Wimbush had no answer for KJ Costello who tossed 4 TD passes in route to the 38-20 win.
In 2019 Brian Kelly finally broke through and won for the first time “on the farm”. Ian Book tossed 4 TD passes including two of them to Chase Claypool, in a 45-24 romp.
None the less, 1-4.
Traveling to California to end the season is nice, but winning in California to end the season has not been easy in the Brian Kelly era.
This week the 10-1 Irish look to finalize their playoff resume against a 3-8 Stanford team that has nothing to lose. The records make the match-up look lopsided, but the history of closing out the season in California might suggest that the Irish exercise a bit of caution.