As of last night’s new BCS rankings, Stanford sits at #4 in the country and within the range necessary to guarantee an at-large BCS bowl berth (the nation’s top four teams are each assured a spot in a BCS bowl). The new standing is worth discussing for several reasons:
- #4 is the highest ranking Stanford has ever achieved. Even though the BCS’s 12-year history pales in comparison to Stanford’s 119-year existence, the honor indicates that this is Stanford’s best football team in at least a decade.
- U.S. News and World Report ranked Stanford fifth in the country among “National Universities.” Today is the first time in history during which the Stanford football team was more highly regarded than the school’s academic program.
- Stanford trails only undefeated teams (Auburn, Oregon, and TCU) in the BCS. Considering the yearly bias against West Coast teams, Stanford’s ability to trump Big Ten one-loss teams Wisconsin (#5), Ohio State (#6), and Michigan State (#8) proves that the nation overwhelmingly believes in Stanford’s ability.
- Bowl predictions are God-awful boring, so you won’t see any on The Daily Axe. But consider this: if Auburn and Oregon both lose this coming week, Stanford could play for the national championship. The Ducks play a bitter rival in Oregon State, and strange things can happen among in-state foes. Auburn plays in the SEC Championship Game against a solid South Carolina team that could create problems for the Tigers if SC can run the ball effectively. Will both teams falter? Almost certainly not. But if one of the two loses, TCU would likely move into the top 2, and Stanford would most likely head to the Rose Bowl.
- In case you actually do want to read bowl berth predictions, the ones to read are those written by Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated (who has Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl against Nebraska) and friend of the site Paul Myerberg of Pre-Snap Read (Myerberg has Stanford matched up with Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl).
- Perhaps Jim Harbaugh now sees that he can build a winning program and win appropriate recognition for it here on the Farm. This year, he has the athletes, the coaching staff, and the resources to field a top-5 team. What else can any other college in the nation offer?
- Who are we kidding? Harbaugh’s probably headed for greener pastures after 2010.