The Stanford Cardinal continued their roll towards an 11-1 season with their victory over Arizona State. The victory allowed them to retain their No. 6 ranking in this week's BCS rankings and they even gained some points on No. 5 LSU. And yet, because of the rules affecting the Rose Bowl and TCU, Stanford is in danger of missing out on the Rose Bowl and even any other BCS bowl appearance.
In years past Oregon's run to the national title game would then slot Stanford into the Rose Bowl. However, recent rule changes give TCU a better shot at getting the Rose Bowl nod against the Pac-10 champion. As we mentioned last week, if Oregon and Auburn end up in the national title game over TCU and TCU remains undefeated, it seems highly likely that the Horned Frogs will come up roses.
One would then argue that Stanford deserves one of the other BCS bowls, whether it be the Fiesta, Orange, or Sugar Bowl. However, because Oregon is looking to win the Pac-10, Stanford's only shot is through one of the at-large selections. Although the Cardinal are putting together a very strong resume to get such a nod, factors like television ratings and attendance draw play just as big a role in the selection process. There are numerous questions as to whether Stanford could bring the type of media and ticket clout that BCS bowls drool over.
If Stanford does not get into a BCS bowl, they have clinched a spot in the December 29 Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. That bowl features the Pac-10 No. 2 against the Big-12 No. 3 and Stanford currently holds a two game lead on Arizona with two to go and Stanford has the tie-breaker. It would certainly be a fun matchup for the Cardinal, but given the amount of money and prestige involved in the BCS bowls, it would have to be a huge letdown for Stanford.
At this point all Stanford can do is win and win big. Margin of victory technically isn't a category for consideration in the BCS rankings, but we know it can affect the human voters in the USA Today/Coaches Poll and the Harris Interactive College Football Poll. Stanford can also root against Auburn when they battle Alabama in the Iron Bowl, or in the SEC title game against South Carolina. If Auburn loses, TCU or Boise State would likely end up in the national title game, which then re-opens the Rose Bowl slot for Stanford.
The reason I don't suggest rooting against Oregon these final two weeks is because two BCS bowls for the Pac-10 would be incredibly valuable both in terms of prestige and in terms of dollars. I suppose if Stanford is just looking out for number one then root against Auburn, Oregon, TCU, and Boise State. But if they want to really boost the Pac-10, root for Oregon to run the table.