In our final meeting with coach Tyrone Willingham before Saturday, the coach acknowledged that Stanford is a big game ... but not for the reason you might expect.
"I've made it clear that we have a very good conference and it's been good for a long time," Willingham said. "But in a lot of those years the champion has had one loss. We've got ours already. There's no room for us to error. So we have to understand that if we're a team that's going to get back in this thing, I think everyone would say right now – across the country they're saying it: SC seems to be the clear leader. Other than that you could say maybe anyone could emerge in those other spots. So we'd like to be in one of those spots."
A few other Willingham notes:
Receiver Chancellor Young, who was spotted on crutches this week, has a knee bruise expected to keep him out at least a couple of weeks.
True freshman DT Craig Noble is practicing, but is being brought along slowly to avoid injury since he had no training camp.
Willingham said he also doesn't expect true freshmen WR Cody Bruns, WR Anthony Boyles or TB Terrance Dailey to make their college debuts this week.
Safety Victor Aiyewa remains out with a groin injury doctor's apparently haven't fully figured out.
Tailback Chris Polk had shoulder surgery Wednesday, is expected out of the hospital today and should be ready for spring practice.
Matt Houston is expected to start ahead of Joshua Gage at linebacker Saturday, although both will play.
And finally, receiver Curtis Shaw, who left the team in August for personal reasons, was spotted watching practice Thursday.