Stanford will field a defense against Michigan State in the Rose Bowl that includes several fourth- and fifth-year seniors, including linebacker Trent Murphy.
This is the fifth consecutive bowl game, and fourth in a row in the coveted Bowl Championship Series games, for the Cardinal.
Back in 2007, when those veteran players were in high school, Stanford was in the midst of what would become a seven-year bowl drought.
But the recruits got a hint of what might be possible when Stanford, a 41-point underdog under former coach Jim Harbaugh, upset second-ranked USC at the Coliseum, 24-23.
“That was kind of like the like spark or glimpse of maybe what Stanford could be,” said Murphy, who was a high school junior at the time. “This was kind of like, ‘This is what’s going to happen. We’re going to build off of this and with hard work and talent, we're going to be a winning program.'”
Murphy has said that the outcome of that game did not influence his decision to choose Stanford.
“I’ve said it didn’t, but maybe secretly it did,” he said. “I’m pretty sure I was watching that game with my dad and my family in the living room.
“It was still really early in the recruiting process. But it was like, 'Oh hey, Stanford just won. That’s pretty cool. I’ll take a look at these guys.'"