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It may be an advantage that Stanford has been here and done that

SportsFootballCollege FootballProfessional BasketballStanford CardinalTravelMichigan State Spartans

Does Stanford own the “been there” advantage?

This is the Cardinal’s second straight Rose Bowl trip and fourth consecutive BCS invitation.

Michigan State is playing in its first major bowl in the BCS era.

Trent Murphy, Stanford’s fifth-year senior linebacker, says it takes time to separate what is important on a major bowl trip.

“Four years ago I was packing for the events,” Murphy said Saturday “…This time I was packing for practice and making sure I had my vitamins…. Hopefully they get distracted having fun at Disneyland and those events and gives us the upper hand in preparation.”

Some Michigan State players are definitely soaking up their first trip to California.

“Like Hollywood,” junior receiver Tony Lippett said. “It’s great seeing it in person, not on a movie or TV or something like that.”

Lippett, who grew up in Detroit, said he had not seen any real celebrities yet, but met some of his heroes on a trip to the Wax Museum.

“That was probably the coolest thing I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” he said. “I took a picture with Jack of 'Titanic.' That’s probably my favorite movie. I don’t know why, but that’s my favorite movie…and I took a picture of Barack Obama.”

Not all Spartans are new to Tinseltown. Senior receiver Bennie Fowler said he visited Los Angeles as a high school sophomore.

“My mom just surprised my brother and I for spring break,” Fowler said, “and she took us out to L.A. for a couple of days and went on Rodeo Drive and went to a Laker game.”

Fowler grew up in Michigan but grew up a huge Lakers fan.

Kobe Bryant remains his favorite player.

“I love the way he plays the game, how he competes, how he doesn’t like to lose,” Fowler said.

Fowler said he rooted for Detroit against the Lakers in the 2004 NBA finals, but only because he was tired of the squabbling between Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

“Why do two great players have to fight over whose team it is?” Fowler asked. “Why can’t they just share it?”

Fowler would have been a great caller on Laker talk-radio. 

They were Lumberjacks, they work all day: This year’s game features an unusual assistant coaching faceoff of former teammates from Northern Arizona.

Stanford’s defensive coordinator Derek Mason and Brad Salem, Michigan State’s quarterbacks coach, played together at Northern Arizona in the early 1990s.

Mason said he and Salem have remained close friends.

“We talked all season up until two weeks ago,” Mason joked.

Mason has emerged as one of the nation’s top defensive coordinators with an intensity that sometimes shocks his players.

Trent Murphy says sometimes you’d think Stanford was 2-11 instead of 11-2, “the way he rips us apart after the game…He’s always hungry and keeps us hungry.”

Mason pleads guilty to all charges.

“I coach angry,” Mason confessed.

One of Mason’s defensive mantras is to get opposing offenses into “deep water.”

What does that mean?

“A shark takes his prey into deep water,” Mason explained.

Suggestion for any offense playing against Stanford’s defense: Stay in the shallow
end.

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