BCS reaction: Stanford

The big one got away. More to the point, it got carried away by running back LaMichael James and Oregon Ducks.

In the latest BCS standings, Stanford slid from No. 4 to No. 9. The Cardinal are no longer national championship contenders. Debate all you want about whether an undefeated Stanford team would have gotten a fair shake if LSU and Oklahoma State also run the table. Doesn't matter. Never did with Oregon game still looming. It was fun fodder. Not so fun anymore for Stanford fans.

As head coach David Shaw put it last week, the Cardinal could have been No. 2, No. 3 or No. 10, and they would still have to play Oregon. They did, and they lost 53-30.

So what does this mean for Stanford?

First, the Cardinal are still in position to land in a BCS game -- more than likely the Fiesta Bowl -- as an at-large team. There is an outside chance they could go to the Rose Bowl should Oregon advance to the national championship game. The Rose Bowl is not required to take the runner-up in the Pac-12 championship game and Andrew Luck would probably be a decent draw in Southern California. But that's a long shot at best.

Shaw and his players have been saying for more than a month that the BCS rankings don't matter until the season is over and you see what bowl game you go to. And they were exactly right. The fact that Stanford stayed at No. 4 last week behind Alabama means nothing now.

As for the actual numbers, the Cardinal dropped from No. 3 to No. 7 in the Harris poll, from No. 2 to No. 9 in the coaches' poll and from No. 7 to No. 11 in the computer rankings.

There isn't a lot of analysis to offer just yet. At this point, Stanford just needs to win out and see where the chips land. It won't be playing in the Pac-12 title game (probably), so its last game pre-bowl will be Nov. 26 against a Notre Dame team that has found its way back into the top 25. A victory over a bowl-eligible Cal team can't hurt and a win over a ranked Notre Dame team would give the Cardinal a legitimate claim to an at-large BCS bid.

A loss to either team probably knocks them out of a BCS at-large consideration. But the key is what happens with Oregon. Because if the Ducks go to the title game, some possibilities open up to a one-loss Cardinal team.