With the first BCS standings announced on Sunday, the Stanford Cardinal found themselves in a pretty good position. At No. 6 in the initial rankings that determine who plays for the BCS National Championship, Stanford is the highest ranked one-loss team in the country and even ahead of five undefeated teams. The five teams ahead of them have all looked impressive in building their perfect records up to this point but Stanford is waiting right in the wings, positioned perfectly to take advantage if any teams in front of them stumble. Their chances of getting into the BCS title game are slim but they are still alive.
Their win last Saturday against the UCLA Bruins was huge for Stanford in a number of ways. First, it got the team back on track playing good football and more importantly maintained Stanford’s control over their own Pac 12 title destiny. Both teams Stanford is chasing in the Pac 12 North (Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers) are still on the Cardinal schedule, starting this week with a trip to Corvallis. The first step for Stanford to get into the top two of the BCS is for them to stay on track towards repeating as Pac 12 champions.
The other part of the equation to get Stanford up the BCS rankings is out of the Cardinal’s hands; the teams ahead of them must lose. Outside of Oregon (currently No. 3), Stanford has no head-to-head matchups with any of the teams ahead of them in the rankings. There’s no chance that Stanford jumps these programs without them suffering at least one loss down the stretch. That means that Cardinal fans will become big supporters of whatever team is taking on the Missouri Tigers, Ohio State Buckeyes, Florida State Seminoles and Alabama Crimson Tide.
It’s a long shot and Stanford is still at risk of being jumped by one of the undefeated teams behind them or some other one-loss team that has a major statement win down the stretch (like the Auburn Tigers, perhaps). But as long as there’s a chance, Stanford is going to keep fighting for the that ultimate prize of a shot at the BCS National Championship.