Football aside, homecoming day provided quite a lot for the Stanford Athletics program on Saturday at Stanford Stadium.
Stanford was presented with its 17th consecutive Learfield Sports Directors' Cup as the finest intercollegiate athletic program in the nation. The award is presented annually by the National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors of America (NACDA), Learfield Sports and USA Today.
Stanford finished with 1550 1/4 points, outdistancing Ohio State (1,227) and California (1,219 1/2). A large number of Stanford athletes representing the teams that helped win the award were present to accept the trophy and poses for photos.
In addition, Stanford's Ashley Hansen was presented with an award recognizing her as the 2011 ASA/USA Softball National Player of the Year.
And, oh yes, a football game was played. Stanford beat Washington State, 65-21, to improve to 5-0 in the Pac-12, 7-0 overall while extending the nation's longest winning streak among FBS teams to 15 games.
The win also was Stanford's 10th consecutive victory by at least 25 points, the first to do so since 1936, according to Sports Illustrated.
The 65 points, meanwhile, are the fifth-highest total in school history. Stanford scored 82 points against UCLA in 1925 and 82 against Mare Island in 1923. Stanford tallied 74 against Hawaii in 1949, and 68 against San Jose State with Jim Plunkett leading the way in 1968 and 69 against Wake Forest last season.
Thanks to upset losses by Wisconsin and Oklahoma on Saturday, Stanford has been elevated to No. 4 position in The Associated Press Top 25 this week and to No. 6 in the BCS standings. Stanford now has been ranked among the top 10 in the AP poll for 16 weeks, the longest run as a Top 10 team in school history.
Heading into last weekend, Sports Illustrated projected Stanford for the Fiesta Bowl, with Oregon taking on Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and Alabama and Oklahoma meeting in the national championship game. Well, that's likely not going to happen now following Wisconsin's 37-31 loss to Michigan State and Oklahoma's 41-38 loss to Texas Tech.
Stanford still is in position for the Rose Bowl, and can lock that up by beating USC this weekend, then Oregon State, Oregon on Nov. 12 and then Cal in the Big Game on Nov. 19.
If Stanford runs the table with a regular season-ending win over Notre Dame and then wins the Pac-12 playoff on Dec. 2, it might be hard to exclude the 13-0 Cardinal from the national championship game. Presently, LSU (8-0), Alabama (8-0), Oklahoma State (7-0), Boise State (7-0) and Clemson (7-0) rank ahead of Stanford in the BCS poll.
LSU and Alabama, however, will face each other on Nov. 5, with the loser being knocked out of the championship game picture. Oklahoma State also has to play unbeaten Kansas State while Clemson has to face South Carolina and the ACC's weak image. Boise State also has a problem with its semi-soft schedule.
All Stanford has to do is keep on winning. There's a bowl game out there for the Cardinal and it should be a big one.
Notes: Stanford's road game against Oregon State on Nov. 5 will have a kickoff time of 12:30 p.m. The game will be televised on a regional basis by ABC . . . While Andrew Luck was 16 of 21 for just 169 yards, he did move ahead of John Paye (1983-86)on Stanford's career list for passing yardage. Luck now has 7,801 yards, but is 1,548 yards behind No. 2 John Elway. The school record-holder is Steve Stenstrom with 10,531 yards . . . .Stanford saw two streaks end against Washington, which became the first team to score in the first quarter against the Cardinal this season and the first to surpass 20 points in a single game . . . Stanford is averaging 48.57 points a game this season. Just five years ago, the Cardinal was averaging 9.7 during a 1-11 season.