San Jose State Shocks Stanford
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) _ After hugging each other on the field and leaping against a sideline fence to thank their fans, the San Jose State Spartans still weren’t done celebrating yet another upset of Stanford.
As they headed past the somber Cardinal locker room after their 40-27 victory on Saturday night, the exuberant Spartans lobbed a few verbal barbs through the open door.
``Three years in a row!″
``Pac-10 who? Pac-10, Schmack-10!″
``We shocked the world!″
Actually, the Spartans’ latest win over their crosstown rivals wasn’t terribly surprising. After three straight victories over Pac-10 champion Stanford, unassuming San Jose State clearly holds some sort of power over its high-class rivals.
``After last year and the year before, they come back here and they do it to us again,″ said receiver DeRonnie Pitts, just one of many Stanford players looking bewildered after the loss. ``I guess we have to give them that respect now.″
In the college football hierarchy of Silicon Valley, Stanford is the iMac to San Jose State’s Commodore 64. The Cardinal have a peerless private-school academic reputation, the prestige of Pac-10 membership and a base of famous alumni _ everyone from Tiger Woods to former Secretary of State George Schultz, who attended Saturday’s game.
The Spartans are a public school in the low-profile WAC, with a rundown campus and an inferiority complex years in the making. Though their campuses are just 15 minutes apart, there’s a world of difference in the players’ lives.
``I don’t think anybody in our locker room has any doubt any more that we can play with anybody in the nation,″ said Dave Baldwin, who joined his mentor, Jack Elway, as the only San Jose State coaches to beat Stanford three times.
The last two years, Baldwin used clever motivational ploys to psych his team for the game. In 1998, he convinced his team that an innocent Stanford request _ that the Spartans wear sneakers instead of cleats while practicing on the Cardinal’s stadium grass _ was in fact a disrespectful demand.
Last year, Baldwin took his team on a tour of the gorgeous Stanford campus, pointing out the class differences between the Spartans and their opponents. Baldwin said he didn’t employ any motivational tactics this year ``other than respect, and you only get respect by winning.″
On Saturday night, the Spartans packed as many fans into Stanford Stadium as they’re likely to have at their next home game. The raucous cheering section threw water bottles at a Cardinal cheerleader carrying the school flag and chanted ``Three-peat!″ when the game’s outcome was assured.
``I was worried that we weren’t taking them seriously,″ Stanford linebacker Riall Johnson said. ``They found a way to get motivated for this game, (and) we didn’t.″
Tailback Deonce Whitaker, only a kick returner two years ago and injured for the Stanford game last year, rushed for 254 yards and two touchdowns in his first chance to face the Cardinal.
Even more impressive was the way Whitaker got his yards _ darting inside the line, running over linebackers and through arm tackles by Stanford’s sluggish defense.
``Beating Stanford is the making of a great tradition,″ Whitaker said. ``I think last year, they thought it was another fluke. I always wanted to be part of this tradition and jump on the fence after the game.
``This year, they’re going to have to believe in us.″
With No. 5 Texas paying a visit next Saturday, the Cardinal stumbled at an inopportune time. Stanford’s vaunted ``Trench Dogs″ defensive line was pushed around by San Jose State’s unheralded offensive front, though the pass defense that must face Major Applewhite and Chris Simms kept the Spartans in check.
Now San Jose State, which was trounced by No. 1 Nebraska a week earlier, must try to gain momentum from its victory. Last year, after the Spartans beat Stanford they didn’t win again in a 2-9 season.
``I told our kids this is just the beginning,″ Baldwin said. ``We’ve got to settle in and focus now.″