For a moment, or at least until the final gun of the UW game this Saturday, forget the stupid BCS and the Coaches' Poll and Writers' Poll and even the New York Times Computer rankings.
Forget where you think Stanford belongs in these silly, made-for-tavern-debate pecking orders and focus on this: just how good is this team, anyway?
Where will this joyride conclude? How giddy were you last Saturday night and how big was the grin on your grille Sunday morning as the UCLA game really started to sink in? Best hangover cure: sports pages recounting another monumental, who'd-a-thunk-it Stanford win.
No doubt about it. This one creates tantalizing possibilities. They boggle the mind and glitch-up the computers.
Still, ignore these legacy-locked, brain-dead rankings. Where will this team have arrived when it counts most: in December when the dealin's done? UCLA's overconfidence and under-preparation notwithstanding, we like Stanford's chances to shock that legacy-locked, brain-dead world. The shock therapy would do it a world of good.
Even as the dull ache of the Washington State Cool-Zone debacle of weeks ago (and, boy, does it seem like a long time) is beginning to subside amongst CardinalmaniacsÔ, we can't help but speculate that the Cougs are bound to taste defeat one or two more times. Maybe even as early as Saturday when stunned, chastened (but, we hope, better prepared) UCLA visits The Palouse. That accomplished, and assuming the O-line sustains its dominant, in-your-face, kick-ass ways, we should be able to pick up the keys to the Pac-10 penthouse later this month. That alone may not be enough to catapult us into this year's formula-ized Rose Bowl, but considering our hang-dog despair of October 13, you gotta love where we're sitting this week.
And yet…we'd all be wise now to take a cue from Mr. Unflappable himself. The guy who's re-defined the term "focus." The dude who makes laser-guided, smart-bombs look like shoulder-launched Ukrainian missiles. Yes, CardinalmaniacsÔ, I recommend taking the Tyrone Willingham cure for the distraction and agitation cause by excessive exposure to football rankings and polls. He blows them off the way Barry Bonds flicks reporters away from his clubhouse recliner. Works for Tyrone. Even helps him relax for 15 or 20 minutes after another implausible win. Last Saturday he was even seen working the crowd, or allowing the crowd to sort of work him, on his brisk victory walk back to the locker room. The man was smiling.
We could do worse. And, thus far, a couple of erstwhile highly ranked outfits already have. Willingham's laser focus on shunning the rankings has worked to their clear disadvantage. Mr. Duck, quack hello to Ms. Bruin. Meanwhile, let's turn the laser beam, and our radio dials since there's no TV, on to the Washington game. Rankings, after all, are really meant for the PGA and the tennis dudes.