Utah just got done staving off Stanford, 27-21, dealing a big blow not only to the Cardinal’s chance of a national championship but the Pac-12’s chance of a second BCS bowl bid.
It could be argued that Stanford, fifth-ranked and now 5-1, would have needed to beat Oregon in November anyway to stand a chance at a national-title berth. That’s still true, but even with such a victory, a one-loss Cardinal team would have to have a bunch of things break right.
Among the obstacles would be undefeated seasons by Alabama, Clemson or Florida State (which play each other next week) and Louisville.
The problem for Stanford now is, it likely comes in second in a contest with a one-loss SEC team, and it would be questionable whether it could nudge past an undefeated Louisville team, even though the two schedules are apples and oranges.
A bigger problem is, Stanford hasn’t looked the past two weeks like a team that’s going to win out. Saturday, in the final minute, needing to convert a third-and-2 inside the Utah 10, the Cardinal didn’t run the ball on either third or fourth down. That ain’t Stanford.