Last Saturday was all about preparation, performance and persistence.
When Dylan Powell has the chance to sit back and have perspective about what took place, he'll understand he lived a bucket list moment.
The Hannibal, Mo., native started at right guard for the Stanford football team in the 49-42 victory over UCLA in a pivotal Pac-12 game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. The victory enhanced the Cardinal's bowl resume, improving them to 7-4 ahead of Saturday's game against Cal.
It also afforded the Powell the opportunity to play on fabled ground. The Rose Bowl, much like Notre Dame Stadium where Stanford played earlier this season, owns a place in college football lore.
"The Rose Bowl is one of those historic places that's really cool to get to go to," said Powell, a 6-foot-3, 281-pound junior who was the Herald-Whig's Player of the Year in 2015. "The first of January every year, you see the Rose Bowl game getting played there. So to actually play in that stadium is pretty cool."
Powell didn't just play. He contributed in a big way.
The Cardinal rushed for 126 yards, piled up 470 yards of total offense and won the game with a 52-yard touchdown pass and a Bryce Love conversion run with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
"It was cool to actually get out there and get my feet wet with a start and get that experience of being with my teammates," Powell said.
He was ready for it, regardless of when the opportunity came.
"Every week, you have to prepare the same whether you are starting or not," Powell said. "Injuries could happen during the game, so you have to be ready to go out and be ready to be plugged in and perform. You don't want to see a dropoff from the starter to the backup. So I just prepared every week like I was going to be the starter."
There hasn't been.
The Cardinal have won both games Powell has started, beating Oregon State 48-17 in his first career start. Powell had been used in short-yardage and goal-line situations, but he hadn't been an every-snap kind of lineman until two weeks ago.
"Obviously, I didn't want it to come because of injuries," Powell said. "When people go down, you have to step up. I've been preparing my whole career here for this. The coaches have done a nice job of helping me get ready."
The Cardinal have scored 97 points and averaged 533 yards of total offense in the two games he's started.
"The hard work is paying off," said Powell, who is majoring in communications. "I'm just doing whatever I can to help us win and really get our offense going again. I need to do well in pass protection and keep (junior quarterback K.J. Costello) clean so he can make plays.
"We've got weapons all over the field, really at every position. As for the offensive line, if we give the quarterback time and give the running backs holes, we can put up a lot of points."
Do that one more time this week in a rivalry game, and Powell might learn he'll be starting in a New Year's Day bowl game.
"This is a big game for us knowing it's a big rivalry out here. It's going to mean a lot for them and us, and it will determine where we go for a bowl game," he said. "We always talk about finishing strong. Our saying is, ‘Start fast, stay focused and find a way to finish.' Our goal right now is to finish this season strong with two more wins, get to nine wins and build some more momentum going into next year."
Powell has been doing that since the day he stepped on the Palo Alto campus, and the rewards are bucket list worthy.