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National College Football

Dropouts for Stanford, Boise State

By Mark Blaudschun
November 14, 2011

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It happens every season. Just when we think we’re going to have the mother of all controversies about who is worthy of playing for the Bowl Championship Series national title, stuff happens.

A week ago, there was all sorts of speculation about the what-ifs involving unbeaten Louisiana State, unbeaten Stanford, unbeaten Boise State, unbeaten Oklahoma State, and once-beaten Alabama.

There weren’t only issues about which team deserved to be No. 1, there were questions about which should be No. 2.

And then they played the games.

Oregon defeated Stanford, 53-30, exposing the Cardinal and to some extent Heisman Trophy front-running quarterback Andrew Luck.

Stanford lost its nation-best 17-game winning streak, which began after a loss in Eugene more than a year ago.

How costly was Saturday night’s defeat?

A spot in the BCS title game in New Orleans? Gone.

A spot in the Rose Bowl as Pac-12 champion? Probably gone.

The Heisman Trophy? Not as secure as it was for Luck, and potentially gone if there is another misstep in Stanford’s final two regular-season games, against California and Notre Dame.

Oregon, which unleashed a Quack Attack on the Pac-10 en route to a national title game meeting against Auburn a year ago, is doing the same thing this season, rolling over teams and climbing in the polls and BCS standings.

Oregon’s only loss was to LSU in its regular-season opener. If Oklahoma State stumbles against Oklahoma in a few weeks and the Ducks take care of business in their final two home games against Southern Cal and Oregon State and then win the Pac-12 title game, a Oregon-LSU rematch in New Orleans is probable.

Luck threw for three touchdowns, but he was also intercepted twice and fumbled once.

“It’s pretty cool,’’ said Oregon defensive end Terrell Turner. “[Stanford] always looks down on us and we come out and just play our game. That’s what we want to do. Play our game and shock people.’’

Shock may be too strong a word. But no one should be surprised if Oregon is still playing Jan. 9.

Shock is not too strong a word to describe the feeling at Boise State after its 36-35 loss to Texas Christian.

Boise State appeared a lock to make it to a BCS bowl, perhaps even the title game. All the Broncos had to do was beat TCU at home, beat San Diego State on the road, and then win home games against Wyoming and New Mexico. Considering that Boise State hadn’t lost a home conference game since 1998, even TCU, which had to be regarded as dangerous after it stumbled out of the box with losses at Baylor and vs. SMU, seemed manageable.

Last season, all Boise State had to do was beat Nevada on the road and it would be in a BCS game, but it missed chip-shot field goals in regulation and overtime and lost.

Saturday night freshman Dan Goodale’s 39-yard kick that could have won it for the Broncos sailed wide right as time expired.

“It’s a loss, so it feels similar,’’ said Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore. “There’s not great feelings.’’

Boise State has lost four games in the past four seasons, all by 3 points or fewer, including one in overtime.

Cowboys on wild ride

If there are still doubts about Oklahoma State’s credentials they are diminishing rapidly. The Cowboys traveled to Texas Tech for what some people thought would be a dangerous game. Oklahoma State won, 66-6, and is now two wins (at Iowa State, vs. Oklahoma) from a BCS title game shot. And although Oklahoma might be a problem, consider this: Texas Tech beat the Sooners in Norman Oct. 22 . . . LSU was a unanimous No. 1 in the Associated Press poll, the first time a team has received all the first-place votes during the regular season.

Big East up for grabs

Does anyone want to win the Big East title and get a berth in the Orange Bowl against the Atlantic Coast Conference champion, most likely Clemson or Virginia Tech? Cincinnati had a solid hold on it, but then the Bearcats lost to West Virginia Saturday. But West Virginia has lost to Louisville, which has lost to Pittsburgh, which has lost to Rutgers. If UConn wins one more game, every Big East team would have at least five wins, which hasn’t happened in a major conference since 1904 and 1905 in the then-Big 9 . . . How good is Alabama’s defense? The Tide chugged their way to a 24-7 win over Mississippi State, the 11th straight game in which Tide opponents have scored 14 or fewer points . . . Houston is in the running for a BCS bowl and QB Case Keenum is a Heisman contender. The Cougars continued to roll with a 73-17 win over Tulane. Amazingly, they only had the ball for 25 minutes . . . Florida lost to South Carolina, 17-12, and has lost nine straight games against ranked teams . . . Texas A&M fell to Kansas State, 53-50, in four overtimes. It was also the fourth game this season in which the Aggies have led or been tied at halftime - and lost.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at blaudschun@globe.com.