After being manhandled by Oregon two weeks ago, Stanford responded with a big win over California in the "Big Game." With the win, Stanford moved to 10-1 on the season and rose to No. 6 in the BCS rankings.
If Stanford can take care of business at home against Notre Dame, they can basically guarantee playing in a BCS bowl game, with slim chances of playing in the BCS National Championship Game and the Rose Bowl.
This article assesses 10 potential teams which Stanford could play in BCS bowl games, along with a prediction of each possible outcome.
Even after losing to Iowa State in a double-overtime thriller, Oklahoma State controls its destiny to win the Big 12 Championship. The Cowboys possess one of the top offenses in the nation, with a top RB and WR combination in Joseph Randle and Justin Blackmon. Brandon Weeden has been a great leader of this offense, putting his team in BCS title contention.
I think this would be an offensive shootout that would come down to the last few possessions. I think Stanford would shred Oklahoma State's offense down the stretch and pull out a close win.
Prediction: Stanford Wins 38-35
After losing a tight road game at Robert Griffin III's Baylor Bears, Oklahoma knocked themselves out of national championship consideration. However, Landry Jones and company can still win the Big 12 Championship with a win over Oklahoma State at Stillwater. This will be an uphill task considering that Ryan Broyles and Dominique Whaley are both out for the season.
Oklahoma will be an easier game for Stanford compared to Oklahoma State, their Big 12 counterparts. Landry Jones has struggled in big games his whole career, and Oklahoma's passing defense was exposed by Robert Griffin III's passing barrage this past weekend. I see Stanford winning comfortably.
Prediction: Stanford Wins 31-21
Wisconsin has righted the ship over the past three weeks, beating up on the bottom of the Big Ten handily. The Badgers have a huge game at home against Penn State, which will decide the winner of the Leaders Division. The only way Stanford plays Wisconsin is if the Badgers beat the Nittany Lions and the Spartans to win the Big Ten Championship.
This will be a tough game for Stanford, because Russell Wilson and Montee Ball will control the game clock and will pound the ball all game long. Remember, Wisconsin was a few seconds away from being undefeated and possibly playing in a National Championship Game. I see Wisconsin pulling the upset.
Prediction: Wisconsin Wins 27-20
Michigan State has been playing under the radar all year long and will finally get their chance to play in a Rose Bowl with a win in the Big Ten Championship Game. Kirk Cousins and BJ Cunningham have been electric so far and the Spartans are seeking their second straight 10-win season.
Stanford will not have a hard time with Michigan State's offense, but might struggle with their stingy defense. The Spartans have given up only 15.3 points per game, which is the fifth best in the nation. If Stanford can slow down BJ Cunningham, I see the Cardinal winning this game handily.
Prediction: Stanford Wins 27-17
Penn State played with a lot of heart on Saturday, when they went into Ohio State and won a huge game 20-14. After losing Joe Paterno due to scandal, the Nittany Lions are 1-1 and are poised to win the Leaders Division and ultimately a Big Ten Championship.
Penn State has one of the weakest offenses in the nation, scoring only 20.9 points per game. However, their defense only gives up 13.0 points per game, which is the third best in the nation. While Penn State's defense will likely slow down Andrew Luck and Stepfan Taylor, I don't see Penn State scoring enough points to win this game.
Prediction: Stanford Wins 20-10
Houston is this year's Cinderella story, winning all 11 of their games this season, while being ranked No. 8 in the BCS poll. Case Keenum has been extremely dangerous and dynamic this year, posting gaudy numbers including 4,269 yards passing and 38 touchdowns. If Houston can beat Tulsa this week, they can basically wrap up a BCS at-large berth.
This is Stanford's easiest matchup out of the 10 and one of the least likely. Houston's one common opponent with Stanford, UCLA, almost beat the Cougars, falling on the road 38-34. Stanford absolutely manhandled UCLA at home, beating the Bruins 45-19. I think Stanford wins this game by three to four touchdowns.
Prediction: Stanford Wins 45-24
Virginia Tech has rebounded after losing to Clemson early in the year, and it looks like the Hokies have a great shot at winning yet another ACC Championship. To do so, the Hokies need to beat a surprising Virginia Cavaliers team at Charlottesville and avenge their defeat to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.
As it turns out, this would be a rematch of last year's Orange Bowl, where Stanford absolutely destroyed the Hokies. Both teams had major personnel losses after last year, with the Hokies losing their senior QB, Tyrod Taylor, who was able to stretch the field against Stanford. The Cardinal have a great chance at winning this game.
Prediction: Stanford Wins 38-21
LSU is the best team in the nation. Enough said. The Tigers have beaten basically everyone, silencing so many critics in the process. This secondary is NFL-ready with Morris Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu and Eric Reid headlining the unit. In addition, Jordan Jefferson has stepped up after having disciplinary issues. This game is less likely because Stanford needs a lot of help to make the National Championship Game and will likely not play in the Sugar Bowl.
Stanford really has no chance against this LSU defense. I see the Tigers and Don Cheavis shutting down Stepfan Taylor early on, then hassling Andrew Luck late. Oregon has put up the most points against this LSU defense and I do not see Stanford even scoring 20.
Prediction: LSU Wins 31-14
After falling to LSU in overtime a few weeks ago, people thought that Alabama would have no chance at playing in the National Championship Game. Well, heading into this week, Alabama is No. 2 in the BCS, with a great chance of playing in New Orleans on January 9th.
Alabama's defense has been elite all year long, giving up the least points per game in the nation. This game is even less likely than one vs. LSU, because it would either require Alabama to play Stanford in the National Championship Game or playing them in the Sugar Bowl.
Alabama, much like LSU, will easily stop Stepfan Taylor, taking away Stanford's running game. Nick Saban and Kirby Smart will also find a way to slow down Andrew Luck and Alabama will beat the Cardinal handily with Trent Richardson running over Stanford's defense.
Prediction: Alabama Wins 28-10
Arkansas has been playing very well since their loss at Alabama two months ago, winning seven straight games against quality competition. Tyler Wilson and his outstanding receiving corp have led the 13th-best offense in the nation, while the defense has done just enough to win games. For Stanford to play Arkansas, they would likely need to play them in the National Championship Game or Sugar Bowl, requiring great chaos within the SEC and SEC West, particularly.
Sure, Arkansas does have a very good offense. The Joe Adams to Tyler Wilson connection has been strong all season long and Arkansas is ranked No. 3 in the BCS. However, the Razorbacks have not faced very many elite offenses and struggled against A&M and Alabama's offenses, giving up 38 and 34 points in those contests. I see Stanford winning a shootout.
Prediction: Stanford Wins 35-31