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How Stanford made it to Pasadena

  • Stanford head coach David Shaw signals to his team during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

LOS ANGELES — Stanford will take one of the grandest stages in sports Tuesday when it faces Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, with an estimated television audience of 17 million.

But the appearance would not have been possible without a season-defining sequence of events that took place far from the spotlight.

It was the middle of October, and Stanford was fresh off one of the most disappointing losses in school history — a controversial overtime defeat at Notre Dame. The loss dropped Stanford's record to 4-2 and carried such an emotional wallop that it threatened to derail the season.

Shaken to their core, the players staggered through two days of practice before coach David Shaw and a handful of seniors (tailback Stepfan Taylor, center Sam Schwartzstein and linebacker Chase Thomas) initiated a series of meetings that saved the season.

"That was the critical point," Shaw said.


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