Now that the talk of OSU being passed by a one-loss SEC team has abated, I actually heard the other day some talk that a one-loss Stanford team could pass up the Buckeyes in the BCS. While I don't think it will happen, I decided to take a closer look at what the Cardinal has done this season and found that the AP voters, and media in general, seem to have a rather forgiving attitude toward Stanford, at least as it compares to OSU.
The Buckeyes dropped from second to fourth in the AP poll after wins over Buffalo, SDSU, and Cal by 20, 35, and 18 respectively. Not exactly a murderer's row, but by comparison after Stanford beat Army by 14 --an Army team that had lost to Ball St the previous week by 26-- the Cardinal held steady at number five.
Similarly, the same week OSU was widely criticized for a less than impressive 10 point win over then #16 NU, I heard Stanford widely praised for their "gutty" three point win over #15 Washington, a game in which Stanford was actually out-gained 489-279. One ESPN analyst went so far as to say that Stanford's win was the sign of a "truly great team" because it showed they could find a way to win when not playing their best. I can not recall any OSU victory being similarly praised. It should be noted that while it is true that NU has plummeted since their loss to the Buckeyes, Washington is also out of the top 25 now with three losses.
When Stanford lost to Utah they, of course, dropped a few spots in the poll, down to 13, but have managed to rise to 5 in the BCS standings after an impressive win over UCLA and another less than impressive win over OSU, a game in which they were again out-gained by the opponent. It should also be noted that by OSU, I mean the team that lost to E. Washington, not our beloved Buckeyes. By contrast, after handing PSU its worst loss in over 100 years the Buckeyes actually lost ground to the teams above them in the Coaches' poll.
So, why is nobody calling out Stanford? Why is the team whose average margin of victory is 47-19 criticized for not being impressive in its victories, while the team whose average margin of victory is 32-19 is praised for winning when not playing its best? Why is the team with a loss against an unranked Utah squad even in the same discussion with a Buckeye squad on a 20 game winning streak?