Stanford vs Colorado: Surging Cardinal Quietly Becoming a BCS Sleeper

Marcelo Villa@@_marcelovillaCorrespondent IINovember 3, 2012

BOULDER, CO - NOVEMBER 03:  Running back Stepfan Taylor #33 of the Stanford Cardinals rushes 26 yards for a touchdown against the Colorado Buffaloes in the second quarter at Folsom Field on November 3, 2012 in Boulder, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

With a 48-0 beatdown of Colorado, the Stanford Cardinal have risen to 7-2 on the season, making them a formidable sleeper pick in the BCS standings.

Saturday's win over the Buffaloes was Stanford's fifth win over a conference opponent, pushing them just one game back of Oregon in the the PAC-12 North division. Currently sitting at No. 14 in the BCS standings, Stanford has the opportunity to break into the Top 10 after this week, and possibly higher if the Cardinal can finish out the season on a strong note.

With three remaining games against No. 11 Oregon State, No. 4 Oregon and UCLA, the Cardinal could even be in a position to surpass their division rivals by season's end. Losses to Washington and Notre Dame are the only blemishes on David Shaw's squad. Keep in mind that Stanford nearly knocked off the Fighting Irish in mid-October before falling to Notre Dame 20-13 in OT. 

A major upset of then No. 2-ranked USC has been the lone standout game for the Cardinal thus far, but this team has been rolling on a three-game win streak since the Notre Dame loss. While offense hasn't been the highlight of this team, the defense has managed to hold teams to an average of 18.6 points a game—No. 20 in the FBS. 

The matchup with Oregon State next Saturday should play in Stanford's favor defensively as the Beavers have struggled on offense as well, but Oregon State's defense has been just as good, allowing 17 points a game. A win at home for the Cardinal over the Beavers would build some momentum for Stanford going into a huge test against Oregon on the road.

The game that could really put Stanford on the map as far as the BCS standings are concerned is a November 17 contest with the Ducks. The Cardinal will be highly outmatched on offense against the nation's leader in points per game, but a win would have an insurmountable effect on their position heading into the final game of the season.

As the Cardinal look to finish out the season, they should plan on winning out the remainder of their games if they expect to continue their surge in the BCS standings. Stanford has enjoyed a great run in the AP Poll, gradually rising up the ranks the past couple weeks. But the next two games could wash away all that hard work should the Cardinal drop even just one game. Even a loss to an equally surging UCLA team could push them back in the bottom half.

One thing's for sure—Stanford will have to find a way to get more production out of their offense if they plan on pulling off these upsets, because 27 points a game might not be enough to get past Oregon State, and it certainly won't be enough to keep up with Oregon.