If Stanford coach David Shaw had his pick of where to play Washington State, at Martin Stadium in Pullman or CenturyLink Field in Seattle, he would choose ... neither.
"I would rather play here (at Stanford)," he joked.
Between the two actual options, it's pick your poison. Pullman, the most remote location in the conference, requires a flight to Lewiston, Idaho, then a bus ride to the heart of lentil country. It's not exactly the most popular road trip for fans to make, and when WSU is good, the intimate stadium in the heart of campus is a tough place to play.
The home field advantage at the Cougars' home-away-from-home in Seattle needs far less of explanation, especially for football fans in the Bay Area (see: 49ers). A marvel of acoustic engineering, CenturyLink is without question the NFL's loudest stadium.
Stanford learned that first hand a year ago, when it took a 3-0 record there to play Washington, which was in the process of renovating Husky Stadium. Just three weeks after Washington lost 41-3 at LSU, the Huskies beat No. 8 Stanford 17-13, and the Cardinal failed to score an offensive touchdown for the first time in five years.
"I don't know what the attendance was at the Washington game last year, but that was not a full stadium and it was loud," Shaw said. "I don't know how you do that with a half-full stadium."
The paid attendance was 55,941, but it's unclear actually how many people were there for the Thursday night game.
No. 5 Stanford (3-0) returns to the site where it lost its undefeated record nearly a year to the day later.
Shaw said "with all the people traveling from the Palouse and the Cougar alums that are in Seattle," he's expecting a bigger turnout on Saturday with WSU (3-1) riding its first three-game winning streak in seven years. As a result, he's expecting the crowd to play a factor.
Even-keeled quarterback Kevin Hogan, who made his college debut against Washington last year, admitted he was impressed by the volume at field level.
"I had one play in that game (a five-yard run) and it was loud," Hogan said, "but we're going to prepare for it, and we'll be ready for the atmosphere."
Hogan has played just three true road games as the starting quarterback, but it doesn't get harder than his first. It came at Autzen Stadium against an undefeated Oregon team ranked No. 1 in the AP poll, and Hogan turned in what might be his signature performance to date. He threw for 211 yards, ran for 37 and accounted for two touchdowns as Stanford won 17-14 in overtime.