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Sunday, October 16, 2011
BCS reaction: Stanford

By Kevin Gemmell

Well, Stanford fans, isn't this about what you expected?

The first BCS rankings of the year are out, and the Stanford Cardinal are at No. 8. There is a lot of ground to be made up if the Cardinal want a trip to New Orleans.

Ahead of Stanford (in descending order) is Clemson, Wisconsin, Boise State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Alabama and LSU at No. 1. It's a long climb up.

But it's not totally surprising. All six of Stanford's wins this year have been against teams that are a combined 14-24. Duke, UCLA and Washington State are all at 3-3 while San Jose State (3-4), Arizona (1-5) and Colorado (1-6) are below .500. That's the bad news.

The good news, is the schedule gets ramped up dramatically in the second half of the season.

Washington, Stanford's opponent Saturday, is ranked 25th in the BCS standings. With a win next week over Notre Dame, USC could be ranked. Vice versa, a Notre Dame win could get them ranked. And we all know about Oregon, which is two spots behind Stanford at No. 10.

Is a scenario for ascension conceivable? It is. But Stanford can't afford a hiccup. If they do, well, I hear San Antonio is nice in December.

If Stanford can stay the course and run the table in the second half -- plus pick up a couple of upsets along the way, then it's not unthinkable that they could leap frog some of those teams -- especially with head-to-head matchups of LSU-Alabama and Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, plus notable games of Wisconsin-Michigan State and Boise State-TCU still on the horizon.

While Stanford is at No. 7 in the Harris poll and remained at No. 5 in the coaches poll, it takes a hit in the computer rankings, which factors in strength of schedule. Expect that number to go up if the Cardinal keep winning against a tougher quality of opponent.

So as a Stanford fan, what should you take from this first week of number crunching? Not much. This should be about what you expected. If you thought higher, you were fooling yourself. If you thought lower, well, try to think more positively in the future.