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Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Best game atmosphere of the season

By Kevin Gemmell

The rest of the blogging crew is looking at the best atmospheres from their conference during the season. So here at the Stanford blog, we're going to look at the best single-game atmosphere.

Now, the folks in Palo Alto deserve a pat on the back for rallying their program this season. Stanford fans bucked the reputation that they don't support their team by selling out six of the seven home games this past season.

The atmosphere at every home game (save the season opener against San Jose State when the bulk of the students still weren't on campus) was fantastic and the fan support was great throughout the year.

But the best single-game atmosphere this season belongs to the fans of Troy. And, in all due fairness, the Stanford fans who made the pilgrimage to USC in late October.

Naturally, the biggest game of the season to that point for both teams drew a vocal 93,607 to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. And the fact that the game was nip and tuck made the environment absolutely electric.

When Curtis McNeal put together touchdown runs of 61 and 25 yards in the third quarter to give USC the lead, it was pure madness. And then Nickell Robey's 33-yard pick-six with 3:08 left in the game that put the Trojans ahead brought the crowd to a deafening frenzy.

Over the public address system, there were warnings not to rush the field after the game -- a sure sign that fans were expecting the upset victory. Stanford safety Michael Thomas would later say that he and the rest of the team heard the announcement and took exception.

Each touchdown in overtime brought the fans -- and those on deadline in the press box -- to madness. And when A.J. Tarpley recovered the fumble in the end zone to end the game, a collective gasp went out, followed by silence, except for a small sliver of fans dressed in Cardinal.

Stanford fans did a great job this year supporting their team, but nothing this season matched the thrill and excitement at USC on Oct. 29.