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Stanford football: Cardinal Q&A with Hank Waddles of Go Mighty Card

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Ezra Shaw

1. Where does this rank among most satisfying victories as a Stanford fan?

I've been following Stanford football since I arrived on campus as a student in the fall of 1987, and I'd have to say that for me, this win ranks as #1. I was in the stadium for the last minute comeback in Big Game 1990, and that was amazing for its miraculous nature, but if we're talking about the most satisfying win, nothing else comes close to last week's victory over Oregon. When you combine the quality of the opponent with the stakes riding on the game and then you put it on national television on a Thursday night, it's easy to place this game at the top. Best of all, though, was the sheer dominance of Stanford's effort. This game was more than just the Cardinal vs. the Ducks, an eleven-on-eleven contest. It was Stanford Football vs. Oregon Football, a measure of two football programs and two football philosophies. Nothing could've been more satisfying than watching one long Stanford drive after another.

2. Do you believe Stanford's recent dominance over Oregon is a trend or an anomaly? Do you see the Cardinal continuing to get the upper hand of the Ducks or will this series tilt back and forth?

What cannot be argued is the fact that Stanford and Oregon are the two preeminent football programs on the west coast. Seeing as they'll be playing each other every year and neither team shows any signs of regressing, it's difficult to imagine either team maintaining a stretch of dominance over the other. After all, it was only two years ago that Andrew Luck was admitting that Stanford had "an Oregon problem," and observers were wondering if the Cardinal would ever be able to overcome it. The coaching staff adjusted (and the players got better), and now people are wondering if the Ducks might have a Stanford problem. So now the Ducks are right where Stanford was two years ago -- they've got a team that they believe is the best in the country led by a quarterback many believe is the best player in the country, but they can't even win their own division. They've got great athletes and an innovative coaching staff, and I'm sure they'll be motivated to figure out a way to get past their Stanford problem. I'm sure they eventually will.

3. Do you still have any big concerns about the Cardinal? What do they still have to improve upon?

Stanford was able to beat Oregon because the Ducks couldn't stop the run. The obvious concern in Cardinal circles is about what will happen if Stanford faces a team with a dominant front seven that can stop the running game. What will happen if Kevin Hogan has to win a game? I think he played the best game of his career last week (he had an adjusted QBR of 99.0), and it isn't a coincidence that he only threw the ball thirteen times, the lowest total of his career. The Stanford offense is at its best when the run game is working and the clock is rolling. Like most offenses, they've struggled when they consistently find themselves in 3rd and long. We haven't yet seen that Hogan can step up in those situations.

4. If one or zero teams finished undefeated in the BCS, make the case for Stanford's inclusion in the title game.

If Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, and Baylor all lose, Stanford will reap the benefits of that apocalypse. Even now, with all of those teams undefeated, there are several voices saying that Stanford is the third-best team in the country. If Stanford beats USC, Cal, Notre Dame, and either UCLA or Arizona State in the Pac-12 title game, they'd definitely have enough momentum on the field and with the voters to stay ahead of Baylor and jump over Ohio State. Stanford has the best résumé, and at the point I think the Utah loss would be far enough away that people would instead look at seven straight wins to close the season, four of them over ranked teams, and put the Cardinal in the championship game. If one team remains undefeated, however, it would be a bit more difficult.

5. How do you see the Cardinal avoiding a trap game against USC and extending their recent dominance over the Trojans to five wins in a row?

I don't think USC can ever be a trap team for anyone, certainly not for the Cardinal. The Stanford players take pride in their winning streak over the Trojans, and I can't imagine was letting up at all during practice this week. No player on the Stanford roster has ever lost to USC, and you can bet that no one wants to see that change. Also, there's the fact that the Trojans are looking better of late. Even though they've been playing teams in the bottom half of the conference, they're still playing well. No one at Stanford is overlooking this game. I promise.