The Stanford Cardinal completed their 2010 regular season last weekend with a 38-0 pummeling of Oregon State. The team then received more help than they could have reasonably have expected as both Boise State and LSU lost in upsets. The defeats moved Stanford up to No. 4 in the weekly BCS rankings, with one week of football left for some schools. The number four rankings was pertinent because, due to their circumstances with Oregon potentially in the national title game, the rules provide for Stanford to play in a BCS bowl with an automatic at-large berth.
However, this final weekend of the college football regular season provides a whole host of intriguing scenarios. BCS No. 1 Auburn will face off with No. 19 South Carolina in the SEC championship game in Atlanta, Georgia. Auburn will be the favorite but you can never count out the Ol' Ball Coach. Steve Spurrier likely has a trick or two up his sleeve and will give the Tigers all they can handle on Saturday. Gamecocks QB Stephen Garcia apparently hurt his thumb on his right throwing arm and his left shoulder as well. The coaches think he'll be playing Saturday, but this is definitely a tough blow. He was a key reason South Carolina almost knocked off Auburn early in the season.
BCS No. 2 Oregon will battle in-state rival Oregon State in the 2010 edition of The Civil War. One would imagine a rivalry game can bring out the best in the underdog, but sometimes the favorite is just too good. Oregon State could certainly shock the world, but after their performance against Stanford last week, I can't imagine the Beavers hanging in this one very long, even as hosts in Corvallis. Crazier things have probably happened, but at this point there's a reason Oregon is sitting as 17 point favorite on the road.
Losses by Auburn and/or Oregon could potentially impact Stanford's BCS bowl bid because of movement in the rankings. Right now Stanford is likely going to the Orange or Fiesta Bowl. However, if losses created an Oregon-TCU national title game, Stanford would appear to be in line to go to the Rose Bowl. It's also possible, although unlikely, that Oregon and Auburn could both lose and somehow Stanford has the momentum to get boosted into the national title game. I doubt voters bump Stanford ahead of Oregon given their head-to-head matchup, but the carnage of that kind of fiasco for the BCS would be kind of amusing to see.
The weekend will also include the Big 12 championship game between Nebraska and Oklahoma. The winner goes to Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl while the loser likely ends up in a random New Year's Day Bowl. The ACC title game features Florida State and Virginia Tech, with the winner going to the Orange Bowl. The fairly putrid Big East features three teams tied for first, and all three wrapping up their seasons on Saturday. The three teams are Connecticut, West Virginia and Pittsburgh and it's my understanding that if all three win, UConn gets the conference title and accompanying Orange or Sugar Bowl appearance. While none of these games would have much impact on Stanford's own bowl bid, they would be of note because the Cardinal would likely face one of those teams.
We'll be here to provide plenty of updates this week leading up to Sunday's BCS bowl announcements.