STANFORD The regular season is over for Stanford, at least in the traditional sense.
After dispatching Colorado in a glorified exhibition game, the Cardinal plunges into what amounts to three weeks of postseason play. At stake: nothing less than the Pacific-12 Conference North title, a berth in the league championship game and potentially an invitation to the Rose Bowl.
"We've definitely put ourselves in position to actually get to our goal," linebacker Jarek Lancaster said. "Every game is like a playoff."
Beginning today against Oregon State and continuing with trips to Oregon and UCLA, the Cardinal faces three ranked teams with a combined record of 23-3.
That contrasts sharply to the stretch Stanford just concluded against Cal, Washington State and Colorado, which have a 6-22 aggregate mark.
The Stanford-Oregon State winner maintains control of its destiny in the North: Run the table that includes beating Oregon and it plays for the conference championship.
But that's not the only path to the Rose Bowl, it turns out. USC's midseason tailspin has cleared an alternate path into the BCS for the Cardinal (7-1, 5-2) and Beavers (7-1, 5-1).
The head-to-head winner could reach the Rose Bowl even if it then loses to Oregon.
If the undefeated Ducks jump into the BCS national championship game, the Rose will have an at-large spot open for any Pac-12 team with nine wins and a top-14 position in the final BCS standings.
The South division winner is unlikely to crack the top 14, but there's no rule preventing the Rose Bowl from inviting the North's runner-up. (Notre Dame could be an option for the Rose Bowl, but that's a story for another day.)
Oregon State is No. 11 in the BCS standings, with Stanford checking in at No. 14. The head-to-head winner will have nine victories if its only remaining loss is to Oregon.
In that situation, it might maintain a top-14 ranking because other teams will take on losses down the stretch, as well.
Cal Their bowl game chances are gone, and their coach's future is in doubt. Their best player is done for the season, and possibly their starting quarterback, too.
Against that grim backdrop, the Bears will close their home schedule tonight as 281/2-point underdogs to No. 2 Oregon, the nation's most electrifying team.
"The game is not won on paper," said senior running back C.J. Anderson. "We're thinking about ending somebody else's national championship run."
While the Ducks (9-0, 6-0 Pac-12) have designs on playing in the BCS national championship game, Cal (3-7, 2-5) had its postseason hopes ended with a 21-13 loss to Washington last Friday.
Star wide receiver Keenan Allen sat out the Washington game with a knee injury that probably ended his Cal career. Allen's half brother, hot-and-cold quarterback Zach Maynard, sprained his knee against the Huskies and won't be among 19 seniors playing their final home game.
Coach Jeff Tedford may be on the sideline in Berkeley for the last time. The winningest coach in school history, Tedford revitalized Cal football and created momentum for the privately funded, $321 million renovation of Memorial Stadium.
But after winning 67 of his first 100 games at Cal, Tedford is 15-22 since December 2009. The Bears will miss playing in a bowl game for the second time in three seasons. They are 2-4 in the rebuilt stadium after winning 41 of their previous 51 home games.
Idaho State Prosecutors have decided not to file criminal charges against coach Mike Kramer after a player complained that Kramer shoved him to the turf during practice.
Connecticut 24, Pitts- burgh 17 in East Harford, Conn. Lyle McCombs ran for 120 yards and a touchdown, and the Huskies (4-6, 1-4 Big East) beat the Panthers (4-6, 1-4).