The No. 5 Stanford Cardinal lost 27-21 to the unranked Utah Utes on Saturday, sending shock waves through the top of college football.
After an inspiring 31-28 win over then-15th-ranked Washington last week, Stanford looked lackadaisical against the Utes. It started strong with two touchdowns in the first quarter but fell apart in the second and third.
Six consecutive Stanford drives ended in either a punt or a fumble, putting the Cardinal in a 27-14 fourth-quarter hole that they were unable to overcome.
Stanford entered the game 5-0, but David Shaw's crew will likely fall out of the Top 10 of the USA Today Coaches Poll when it is released on Sunday. Stanford's loss will also have drastic impacts on the first BCS poll, which will be released after the eighth week of the season.
The Coaches Poll accounts for one-third of the BCS formula (click here for the full breakdown), and the manner in which Stanford lost should cause the coaches to drop it at least five or six spots.
Stanford's offensive line was overwhelmed throughout the game, and for the second straight week, the Cardinal receivers have struggled to produce in critical situations. With a brutal upcoming schedule (vs. No 11 UCLA, at Oregon State, vs. No. 2 Oregon), this loss does not bode well for the Cardinal.
That said, this tough, three-week stretch also provides Stanford with an opportunity to stay in the thick of the BCS National Championship race. The BCS rewards teams with difficult schedules, and with two wins over Top 25 teams already, the Cardinal are a strong one-loss team.
In fact, Stanford was ranked second in ESPN Insider Brad Edward's projections coming into this week (subscription required):
|1.||Alabama Crimson Tide|
|5.||Ohio State Buckeyes|
|6.||Florida State Seminoles|
While this loss will likely drop them below Oregon, Clemson, Ohio State and Florida State, the Cardinal are still in good shape. Georgia and Oklahoma both lost this week as well, and if Stanford can beat UCLA and Oregon later this month, it will be back near the top.