In 2007, USC was ranked No. 2 in the nation when Stanford came to the Coliseum, where the Trojans had won 35 consecutive games. They were a 41-point favorite against the lowly Cardinal, which was forced to start backup quarterback Tavita Pritchard because starter T.C. Ostrander had suffered a seizure in a restaurant just days before.
But Pritchard threw a 10-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal with 49 seconds remaining, giving Stanford a 24-23 victory, one of the monumental upsets in college football history.
The Trojans again rolled over Stanford in 2008, 45-23. They went on to win the Rose Bowl -- again -- and Stanford finished with a losing record for a seventh consecutive season. The planets had realigned, right?
Ah, but that wasn't the deal, was it? Harbaugh's Cardinal transformed in 2009, with Toby Gerhart and a power running attack and a young quarterback by the name of Andrew Luck. That team went to the Coliseum and scored 27 fourth-quarter points, transforming a seven-point game into a 55-21 blowout. And with 6:47 left and the Cardinal up 17, Harbaugh elected to go for two. Why?
"I just honestly thought there was an opportunity coming off the ball, the way our backs were running and the way we were playing," Harbaugh said after the game.
In other words: Because we could.