The Thorough Stanford Cupdate

Stanford leads in the Directors' Cup chase, is in the hunt for the Capital One Cup, and trails only UCLA in the national title count. Here's a more thorough update and a look ahead for the rest of the school year. Okay, so that was the exact same title and header we used in an update last year, but the picture is much the same as it always is. Let's break it down.

Directors' Cup
Stanford has 398 points through fall, in a structure in which every sport is weighted equally, there is one set of standings that combines men's and women's performances, and first-place finishes are worth 100. Last year, Stanford had 382 points through fall, the year previous, the haul was 399. That's remarkable consistency, and perhaps the most interesting aspect of a race in which Stanford is chasing itself as much as any other competition. The Cardinal finished with 1448 points last year and 1550.25, the all-time record, in 2011. With luck, Stanford could threaten their 1550 mark this year, and at any rate, they are looking solid to again reclaim the Directors' Cup.

Michigan is in a close second with 373 points (who would have guessed it would be football that keeps Stanford ahead of Michigan), but the Wolverines finished just tenth overall last year, as their winter and spring sports are not up to par, pun intended. Instead, it is Florida the Cardinal should most fear.

The Gators are currently in ninth with 275.5 points, 122.5 behind Stanford. Still, that puts UF ahead of last fall's pace, when they finished a full 200 points behind the Cardinal. The Gators would then outscore the Cardinal by about 40 points in last year's winter and spring, so if that trend continues this season, it could be an uncomfortably close finish for Stanford, who has won this thing for the last 18 years running, usually with ease.

Capital One Cup
Through fall of last year, Stanford had 63 points on the women's side, behind only leader UCLA (72), and 26 points on the men's side, good enough for 10th. The Cardinal women would finish with a record 152.5 points, holding off UCLA (110) and the rest of the field easily, while the men finished out of the top ten entirely. (The men were fifth in 2010-11 with 69 points.)

This year, Stanford's women are right on pace with 64 points. That's third behind UNC and Penn State (72 apiece), but if history is any guide, the main competition is UCLA, and the Bruins have just 15 points. The women are on pace to go 3-for-3 in Capital One Cups, but it's far from over.

The men, meanwhile, are 13th with 23 points, but are in better position than it appears at first blush. Florida (104), Arizona (90) and UCLA (82) finished 1-2-3 last season; this year, they have only 15 fall points combined.

Final thought: six sports for the men and women apiece are given triple the weight of all other sports: football (m)/volleyball (w), soccer, basketball, lacrosse, outdoor track, and softball (w)/baseball (m). Men's football, women's soccer and women's volleyball did their parts with top-10 finishes in the polls. Now, it'll be up to baseball and women's basketball, Stanford's two strongest remaining "major" sports. How they fare will go a long way to determining whether the Stanford women three-peat, and the Stanford men can make a run at their first-ever Capital One Cup.

National Title Race and the 37-Year Streak

UCLA leads with 108; we're second with 103. (USC is third with 96, and then it's a big gap until Oklahoma State with 51.) Both the Bruins and the Cardinal have won exactly 11 national titles over the past six seasons, so we're going to have to go on a tear to catch the Bruins.

Fortunately, women's water polo might be the ticket. The Stanford women have won two national titles in a row in the sport, and now add in Olympians Maggie Steffens, Annika Dries and Melissa Seidemann to a roster that includes Kiley Neushul, last year's NCAA Player of the Year. In particular, Steffens is just now an incoming freshman, six months after she scored 21 goals on only 27 shots in London to lead the U.S. to the gold medal and earn MVP honors! All told then, it's unfair pressure, but after an objective look at the facts, the smart money would be on Steffens winning multiple national titles as a Cardinal.

If so, the hardware will not only help chip away at UCLA's lead, but also will help keep alive a DiMaggio-esque streak. Entering this season, the Cardinal have won national titles in 36 straight seasons! By the time the current freshmen leave the Farm, that number could be 40.

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