Let's start with the postseason:

Stanford is No. 13 in the latest BCS standings and has two paths into the Rose Bowl: Automatic qualification (as the Pac-12 champ) or at-large participation.

An at-large berth can be achieved even if the Cardinal loses at Oregon -- so long as it beats UCLA in the finale and holds its position in the top 14. (Other teams in the 8—18 range will lose down the stretch, as well.)

The other obstacle on the at-large road to Pasadena is Notre Dame. If the Irish are available at 12-0, the Rose Bowl will take them without hesitation.

What if the choice is 11-1 Notre Dame vs. 9-3 Stanford?

My guess ... and it's nothing more ... is that the Rose would pick Notre Dame in that situation, as well.

But that's a discussion for another week ...

  • Result: Beat Oregon State 27-23

  • Grade: B+

  • Comment: Close home win over a ranked team, four turnovers, eight penalties -- the B+ seems about right.

  • Stanford's defense was on its heels in the second and third quarters but, as it has for the vast majority of the season, stood tall when it had to stand tall.

    The Cardinal held OSU to three points following the four turnovers, and it stuffed the Beavers on the final series.

  • Stanford finished its home schedule 6-0, with five of the wins coming by a touchdown or less.

    Tailback Stepfan Taylor played a central role in two of the victories, specifically with three plays: The 59-yard run and 23-yard screen pass against USC, and the 40-yard catch-and-run against Oregon State.

    Without them, Stanford would be 6-4 and headed to the Sun Bowl (at best).

  • Taylor, by the way, became the first Cardinal running back to top 1,000 yards for three straight seasons. He needs 203 yards to set the school rushing record (career).

    He's unlike any of his illustrious predecessors (Nelson, Milburn, Vardell and Gerhart) but belongs in the conversation.

  • Kevin Hogan, in his first start and first extensive playing time against a real defense (i.e., not Colorado) made his share of mistakes (understandable) but performed well, on the whole.

    It will be interesting to see what Oregon does differently with regard to defending against Hogan's mobility.

  • Next up: at Oregon

  • The matchup: I'll let David Shaw (in his postgame news conference) take it from here:

    "A few years ago, we beat them -- had great games from Andrew (Luck), great games from Toby Gerhart, and a great game from the defense. We got some turnovers and a couple stops on fourth down.

    "But this is a different Oregon team now. These guys are special, and I agree with what most people outside the computers say: that this is the best team in the country.

    "It's going to take our best game and not their best game to pull this thing off. So we enjoy this win and get back to work tomorrow and try to find a way to beat these guys."

  • The challenges are obvious to anyone who has watched Stanford this year, watched Oregon this year and watched the head-to-head meetings the past two years (Duck victories, to the tune of 53-30 and 52-31).

    But Stanford, a 21-point underdog, is catching Oregon at a good time -- the Ducks are hurting on the defensive line.