The Stanford Cardinal heads to Southern California Saturday night to take on the surging Trojans hoping to avoid a hangover from its huge Nov. 7 win over then-No. 2 Oregon.
Kickoff at the Los Angeles Memorial Mausoleum … ahem … Coliseum … is set for 5 p.m. and coach David Shaw told the Associated Press earlier this week that the focus is in fact on three initials … not BCS, but rather USC.
“I think we’re at that point in the season now where we can’t afford to go up and down,” Shaw said. “It’s November and there’s only one way you can play in November and that’s all-out.”
Shaw has a teaching point he can use on the Cardinal about what happens when they take their eyes off the prize—their loss at Utah last month. That is why Stanford is the top-ranked one-loss team in the country, rather than taking its place among the other major-conference unbeatens (Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor).
Stanford recovered from a loss last year to win its last eight games and Shaw said the loss in Salt Lake City has had a similar effect so far.
But unlike last year—when the loss came to non-conference foe Notre Dame—a loss now would have much bigger implications. The Cardinal are 6-1 in the Pac-12 and a second conference loss could cost them not only a BCS bid, but also merely a chance to defend their conference title.
Shaw, for the record, is a proponent of a playoff in college football, one that would go beyond the four-team scenario that will begin in 2014.
In his world, there would be eight playoff teams—the champions of the Pac-12 as well as the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, American Athletic, Big XII and Southeastern conferences and two at-large contenders.
“It makes too much sense,” Shaw said.
That having been said, he’s a fan of the direction the sport is taking.
“I think it’s why we’re going to a playoff,” Shaw said. “We all enjoy the conversations and hate the conversations at the same time, because you shouldn’t have conversations, you should have football. So I think the playoff, most of us in college football believe it can’t get here fast enough. I keep hearing people saying, ‘Oh, you’re going to miss the BCS. There’s been so much drama.’ I think the BCS has been great for what it was used for and I can’t wait for it to be gone so we can get to a playoff, because that’s where everything should be decided, on the field.”