Stanford Football: 3 Reasons Their Schedule Is Perfect for a National Title Run
The Stanford Cardinal are currently ranked fourth in the BCS standings, so why are they the favorites to go to the big dance?
Teams like LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State, and Boise State all lay claim to national supremacy, but not every team will get the same opportunity that Stanford will.
Find out why inside.
The Cardinal Have Not Yet Been Truly Tested
The Cardinal are the benefactors of one of the most illusory schedules in the NCAA this year. This is not to say that the Cardinal are not every bit as good as they seem—only that we cannot know for sure based on their strength of schedule.
The Cardinal have not faced a truly elite team yet. They have merely done exactly as they should do: beat the teams they should beat.
That would be everyone on their schedule.
Even consecutive wins over ranked opponents Washington and USC does little to test The Cardinal's claim to greatness. Washington was outclassed in their match-up with Stanford—a demonstration of the gap between good and truly great. And while USC gave them fits in a close 56-48 victory last weekend, they too may be the benefactors of inflated strength-of-schedule.
The Cardinal's first and only true test will come against resilient No.8 Oregon on November 12th. If they can walk away with a victory in that game, it will be very hard to keep them out of the BCS National Championship Game based on the evidence.
The Competition Will Take Care of Itself
Although competition is high for bids to the title game, Stanford is in the unique position of being able to sit back and watch as the other serious contenders bludgeon each other for the right.
The teams most likely to warrant consideration are No.1 LSU and No.2 Alabama. Good thing for Stanford, it's an either-or proposition.
The Tigers meet the Crimson Tide in Bryant Denny Stadium next week in what is surely the most anticipated game of the season. The stakes are extraordinarily high, as the team that wins has a clear shot at staying undefeated on the season. The team that loses will likely, perhaps unfairly, have to settle for a lesser bowl game.
The only other legitimate contender with a chance to remain undefeated is No.3 Oklahoma State, but they have the toughest remaining schedule out of the four with games against No.14 Kansas State, Texas Tech, and arch-rival No.6 Oklahoma, who would love nothing more than to play spoilers.
It seems likely that Stanford will reserve their spot at the title game if it can move past Oregon next week.
"Undefeated" Looks Great on a Resume
As we all know, the BCS selection process is more than just a bit fickle. Lose one game, and you're likely out.
It doesn't matter who your opponents were, nor does it matter who their opponents were. In the sometimes superficial world of BCS football, appearances are everything. It's all about the intrigue.
The loser of the LSU at Alabama game wont be joining their nemesis in the BCS Championship Game precisely because we will already have seen these two teams stack up against each other next weekend.
Never mind the possibility that—regardless of the winner of that game—both LSU and Alabama could be the two best teams in the nation.
The teams that go to the title game are the teams that have yet to be proven fallible.
It is the mystery that drives The BCS Championship Game—as if every hopeful team was merely masquerading as a contender, until in the final bout the veil is lifted to reveal the true king.
If The Cardinal can get past Oregon, they will be well on their way towards this mythic status. People will need to know if they can be beaten.
The idea of being undefeated holds a tremendous amount of sway in the BCS community.
Unless, of course, you happen to be Boise State or Houston, but that's another matter entirely.
Please, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.