Stanford's 52-31 loss at Oregon on Saturday night was humbling, painful, and, at times, frustrating to watch. I don't think any Stanford fan would deny that. In their post-game analysis, The Daily Axe took it a step further:
"We’ll probably never know why, but it was the first time this season that the Card have been an embarrassment. They weren’t embarrassing because they lost, or because they gave up a big lead, or because they couldn’t stop LaMichael James from having a huge day. Any good fan would have accepted that. They were embarrassing because they gave up."
Surely, there are fans who share this opinion. I would respectfully disagree, but my outlook on Stanford football is admittedly colored by the trying seasons that defined my undergraduate years on the Farm, and I was paying my tab when James burst through the line for his final TD run. I saw more fight, even as things slipped away in the second half, than quit on Saturday. I saw a team that was stunned by the sight of a motionless Chris Owusu on the turf and the ensuing touchdown that resulted from his fumble. I saw a team that was two red zone mistakes away from making things interesting again.
Embarrassing is Les Miles' clock mismanagement. Embarrassing is this guy. There's plenty of season left for embarrassing, but I didn't see it from Stanford on Saturday. (Some Ducks fans and Chip Kelly might beg to differ, but I won't begin to question the legitimacy of the Chase Thomas ankle injury that gave Stanford's defense a breather and forced Thomas to sit out one play on a crucial third down one week after the linebacker made a momentum-changing stop on 4th and 1 against Notre Dame.)
OK, I'm officially done with Oregon, save for discussion in the comments. Moving on...
CBS projects Stanford to finish third in the Pac-10 and to play Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl, while ESPN.com likes Stanford to finish second in the Pac-10 and to play Texas or Missouri in the Alamo Bowl.
ESPN currently projects Oregon will make the the national title game. In previous years, the Pac-10 runner-up would go to the Rose Bowl, but a new rule this season requires the Rose Bowl committee to select a BCS team from a conference without an automatic qualifier if a Big Ten or Pac-10 team plays in the national championship game.
The Stanford student section should be loud for Saturday's game against USC.
I'll have more on the matchup with the Trojans in the coming days. Go Cardinal!