Jacob Jaffe helps snap us all back to reality with his column in today's Stanford Daily. With a letdown Saturday in the desert, Stanford's BCS hopes will vanish like a mirage, leaving more than 4,000 loyal fans looking for alternative New Year's plans.
Recalling BCS-busting losses by teams that were once in Stanford's position, Jaffe suggests it's difficult for teams to follow an emotionally charged, high-profile win with another win the following week on the road, no matter the opponent.
The Cardinal will have to play in Sun Devil Stadium, and as South Carolina and Missouri can attest, road games are not always kind to the new kids on the block. Stanford has not won in Tempe since 1999, and the Sun Devils will be entirely motivated to keep that streak alive. Arizona State needs to win out in order to assure itself of a bowl game, and it figures to be eager to erase last week’s loss.
I think some fans, myself included, are in greater need of a reality check than the guys on the field. For their part, Cardinal players and coaches have said all the right, hackneyed things about taking the season one game at a time. I don't doubt Jim Harbaugh's ability to get his players to focus on each opponent as if its their last, if it requires any effort.
"Our single motivation this week is to get a win and get to 9-1," Harbaugh said earlier this week. "But we have three conferences games left and it’s a fight for your life every week."
At the halfway point of the season, I predicted Stanford's BCS hopes would die in Tempe. To my honest delight, the Sun Devils proceeded to make me look foolish, getting walloped in their next game, 50-17, by Cal. Watching the Cardinal thoroughly dominate Washington and Arizona the past two weeks, my confidence in this team is sky high. Stanford should win Saturday, and I think it will. I'll try not to expect it, however, and I'm certainly not looking ahead to Cal.
I'll launch the prediction poll a little earlier this week. Share your own thoughts and/or concerns about Saturday's game in the comments.