With the release of the latest rankings, the Stanford Cardinal are almost certain to be BCS-bound. They climbed the Virginia Tech Hokies after a decisive thumping of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and they're now at the top four of the conference. If things stand the way they are, they will be in the Bowl Championship Series automatically as the top four gain automatic entry, and they won't have to worry about at-large bids or anything of the sort.
There's still an outside chance that Stanford gets shut out (namely, Virginia Tech thumping Clemson to move back over Stanford, Georgia beating LSU to get the nightmarish three automatic BCS bids, Michigan and Kansas State/Bedlam loser earning the final two spots), but right now the Cardinal are sitting pretty in their current spot.
Stanford is pretty much set for the Fiesta Bowl, and it's looking like a pretty compelling matchup will await them. Because if Oklahoma State beats their rivals, it would set up a tantalizing undercard and what amounts to a bronze medal game. #1 vs #2 is becoming more common, but it'd be rare to get a #3 vs #4 to go along with it. Oklahoma State's offensive diversity and pass spread figures to give Stanford's defenders as much trouble as Oregon's up-tempo spread offense. (Of course Oklahoma could come along and spoil everything, like they tend to do...)
Andrew Luck came back with the main goal to try and lead Stanford to a national championship. Although he figures to fall short of that goal, Luck has done a lot to put Stanford back on the map, and a second straight BCS bowl appearance will do a lot to keep the Cardinal on the national radar. Stanford football might not be as dominant as it once was once Luck departs, but it's poised to stay competitive in the future. Recruiting is on an uptick, coaching is competent, and there's still a decent amount of talent remaining from the Harbaugh classes that will provide a potential sleeper bid for the conference in 2012.
The Cardinal should stay in the mix in the Pac-12 for years to come though, and their likely January date is probably the beginning rather than the end.