'O' is for Orange Bowl? Perhaps.
As many expected, Stanford is No. 4 in the latest BCS standings, and in position for a guaranteed BCS bowl bid. Coming off a 38-0 win against Oregon State, Stanford jumped Boise State and LSU, which lost this weekend, and increased its lead over Wisconsin, which jumped to No. 5. With both teams idle next weekend, it's very unlikely that the Cardinal will slip out of the top four. In other words, you can probably cancel those hotel reservations in San Antonio.
During ESPN's BCS Countdown show, Kirk Herbstreit suggested Stanford should be even higher than it is:
If you look at their strength of schedule, it's a top 10 strength of schedule, they're in the top 10 in scoring offense, top 10 in the nation in scoring defense, they've got Andrew Luck, they're defense is playing great, and they've played a demanding schedule and they've been very consistent with the exception of their loss in Eugene when they had that lead...
...We can sit here and argue about schedule and who plays in what conference, but if you really watch Stanford, and I really wonder how many people that vote have been watching Stanford every week because it's sometimes tough to see them, but Stanford is a team that is really gaining a lot of momentum for me personally, and it's interesting to see that gap in the real BCS standings between TCU in a comfortable 3 and Stanford well below them at 4.
Amen, Herbie. As for where Stanford will wind up, a lot still remains to be decided.
If Oregon and Auburn win, they will meet in the National Championship Game. The general consensus is that the Sugar Bowl would select Arkansas and an at-large team from the Big Ten, likely Ohio State. The Orange Bowl, which has the next at-large selection, could take Stanford or the Big East Champion, which could be one of three teams. ESPN analyst Brad Edwards thinks the Orange Bowl would choose Stanford over Pittsburgh or Connecticut, but not over West Virginia. If the Orange Bowl tabs the Big East champ, Stanford is destined for the Fiesta Bowl. (If Connecticut defeats South Florida, the Huskies win the Big East. If UConn loses and West Virginia defeats Rutgers, the Mountaineers win the Big East. Pittsburgh can win the Big East if it defeats Cincinnati and UConn and West Virginia both lose.)
If Oregon loses to Oregon State next week, the Ducks would more than likely fall out of the top two in the BCS standings. Oregon owns the head-to-head tiebreaker against Stanford, so the Ducks would go to the Rose Bowl and TCU would most likely replace them in the National Championship Game. Stanford's fate wouldn't change much.
If Auburn loses to South Carolina in the SEC Championship, the Tigers might fall out of the top two in the BCS standings and open the door for TCU to play in the National Championship Game. In that scenario, Stanford would play in the Rose Bowl, but ESPN's Brad Edwards seems to think that Auburn could suffer a close loss and still remain in the top two. Chris Fowler dismissed the suggestion that Stanford could jump over TCU with both the Cardinal and Horned Frogs idle.
Are you going to rematch Stanford and Oregon? If Auburn loses to South Carolina, do you think voters are going to put Stanford up there in a position to rematch with Oregon? We've seen that game. Stanford had the lead and they lost by 20 points. That game has already been played.
Of course, if Oregon and Auburn both lose, there's a chance Stanford could play the Horned Frogs in the title game. Crazy. David Fucillo of SB Nation Bay Area provides an excellent breakdown of the selection procedures and his own BCS bowl projections here.