The BCS rankings underwent a shakeup of seismic proportions. The effects will be far-reaching, and no team might have a more advantageous position than the Stanford Cardinal.
The Alabama Crimson Tide and Arkansas Razorbacks are ranked ahead of Stanford, but neither will likely win their division or conference. The Oklahoma State Cowboys still have to play the Oklahoma Sooners, who are desperate for a win after the loss to Baylor.
A Rose Bowl appearance is a decent consolation prize, but Stanford has a great opportunity to play for much more.
The Pac-12 added two teams over the summer and now has a conference championship game. If Oregon slips against Oregon State, Stanford will play either UCLA, Arizona State or Utah, none of these squads give induce anxiety in the Cardinal faithful.
Stanford hosts the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the last game of the regular season. It will not be an easy victory but when coupled with the lack of competition in the Pac-12 Championship Game, the Cardinal's schedule is much easier than other national championship contenders.
Oklahoma State must still play the Oklahoma Sooners while the Arkansas Razorbacks have to take on the LSU Tigers. Additionally, Virginia Tech will play the Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship Game.
As discussed previously, the Stanford Cardinal should have little trouble with their opponent in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Again, assuming they are fortunate enough to make it.
The Arkansas Razorbacks and Alabama Crimson Tide are unlikely to play in the SEC Championship Game since they are in the same division as the LSU Tigers. A common refrain among voters has always been that if a team does not win their conference, it should not get a chance to win the national title.
Lastly, not playing in a conference championship game means that a team isn't playing during a weekend of important games. Impressive performances can sway voters who will have nothing current from teams such as the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
The Oregon Ducks visited Palo Alto and completely shredded the Stanford Cardinal defense. Despite a final score of 53-20, this loss is better than the other potential conference winners.
The Big 12 may have lost its national championship contender when unranked Iowa State knocked off the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The timing will leave it fresh in the voters' minds unless the Cowboys can dominate the Oklahoma Sooners.
The Boise State Broncos' defeat did not occur against vastly inferior competition, but it hurt just as much. The Broncos' weak schedule means any loss is a bad one, and Broncos Nation can forget about the national championship.
The Alabama Crimson Tide and Arkansas Razorbacks had the LSU Tigers on their schedules this season. Each team will have had a shot at the Tigers and lost.
Arkansas is capable of upsetting LSU, but it's unlikely. Thus, the Razorbacks will fall back a few spots and could tumble even farther depending on their performance.
Stanford will be the only team who hasn't played LSU. Voters will take this into consideration when submitting their final votes.