By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
James McGillicuddy got his wish. Now the Stanford football team hopes to get its wish too when bowl game pairings are released.
McGillicuddy, who lost a close competition in summer camp with Derek Hall for the starting spot at right tackle, has since filled a unique role for the fifth-ranked Cardinal. He changes his number often enough to play the lottery and has lined up in several different spots on the field.
He's been trying hard to get Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck to throw him a pass. He's dropped a couple during practice, but in Saturday night's 38-0 Pac-10 victory over visiting Oregon State, he held on for a three-yard reception.
Stanford thinks its done enough to hold onto its dreams of a big-time bowl game.
Luck got the reception to McGillicuddy out of the way early, throwing to him during Stanford's first offensive series. It went for three yards and the Cardinal ended up scoring on the 10-play, 71-yard drive.
The Cardinal moved up to fifth in the AP rankings, its highest since being No. 3 after beating Oregon on Sept. 26, 1970. More importantly, the Cardinal moved into the No. 4 position in the BCS standings, assuring Stanford of a BCS bowl game unless the Cardinal falls out of that spot this weekend.
Stanford (8-1, 11-1) hopes to take advantage of a wild weekend in which Boise State and LSU, teams ranked ahead of the Cardinal, each lost and Auburn needed a miracle to come from behind to beat Alabama.
Delivering its third shutout of the season, matching the 1969 team, the Cardinal hoped it impressed the Bowl Championship series folks enough to gain a berth in a BCS game.
"I think our guys stated their case on the field," Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said. "We've impressed the heck out of 11 teams we played this season. The voters should be impressed."
With the Cardinal finishing its regular season on a high note, can only wait and watch to see if its wish comes true.
Luck threw four touchdown passes to set a single-season school record and Stanford forced five turnovers in the contest.
"I think we're the best one-loss team in the country," Stanford linebacker Chase Thomas said. "Our offense is really hard to stop right now, they're so reliable, and our defense has made so many strides from last year. I don't see why we shouldn't get to a BCS game."
After setting a school record for wins, Stanford hopes for an at-large berth in the BCS with No. 1 Oregon having already wrapped up the Pac-10's automatic berth.
The weekend got off to a good start for the Cardinal before this game even kicked off. With Boise State losing Friday night and LSU falling to Arkansas earlier Saturday, Stanford has a chance to move up from sixth to fourth in the BCS standings, guaranteeing a berth in one of the top bowls.
TCU has the inside track for the Rose Bowl, but Stanford could be an option for the Fiesta, Orange or Sugar bowls with the Fiesta or Orange the more likely places.
"I feel like we're an exciting team to watch," said receiver Doug Baldwin, who caught a pair of touchdown passes of 42 and 29 yards. "I'm on the sidelines watching these guys on defense. I don't see what part of the country wouldn't want to see Stanford football come into their town to play."
Oregon State may prove to be the best witnesses for the Cardinal cause. The Beavers host Oregon in next Saturday's Civil War needing a win to become bowl-eligible.
"They have a lot of seniors who know exactly what they are doing," Beavers' coach Mike Riley said. "They keep you on your toes with their personnel packages and different formations."
Ryan Katz threw three interceptions and lost a fumble as Oregon State was shut out for the first time in eight years.
"We were shattered by the Cardinal," Oregon State defensive lineman Stephen Paea said. "Stanford played great."
Luck broke the Stanford record of 27 TD passes in a season held by John Elway and Steve Stenstrom when he connected with Tyler Gaffney on a 52-yard scoring strike on the opening play of the fourth quarter. Luck finished 21 for 30 for 305 yards.
"Any time you get to be mentioned in the same sentence as John Elway it's an honor," Luck said. "It's also a testament to the wideouts, the O-line, the running backs and the tight ends for what a great job they've done all year. I wouldn't say that we can score at will but if we're not making mistakes I think we are pretty tough to stop."
Stepfan Taylor ran for 115 yards, scoring on a 62-yard burst up the middle midway through the third quarter to make it 31-0. That put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season, the sixth Stanford back to reach that total.
Luck picked up where he left off in the Big Game last week when he led the Cardinal to scores on all eight drives he played against California. Luck completed all six passes on the opening drive, capped by a 21-yard scoring strike to Zach Ertz.
Oregon State drove into Cardinal territory on its first drive and was poised to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the 34. But Riley decided to punt after a false start and Luck drove Stanford 91 yards, capped by a 42-yard pass to Baldwin, for his ninth straight drive that ended in a TD.
Stanford added a 20-yard field goal by Nate Whitaker and a 29-yard TD pass to Baldwin that made it 24-0 at halftime.