Stanford picked a poor time to play a substandard football game, dashing its dreams of an undefeated season and shot at a national title with a 53-30 loss to Oregon on Saturday.
That was half of the laurels promised for what was to be the best football season on the Peninsula in recent memory. The other half is a Heisman Trophy for golden boy quarterback Andrew Luck, who picked a poor time to suck on Saturday -- turning the ball over three times.
Yet the trophy's still in reach for the consensus No. 1 overall draft pick in next year's NFL draft. He'll just have to work for it.
Luck is no longer the runaway favorite for the Heisman as he was before the Cardinal's disastrous loss to the Ducks, according to the San Jose Mercury News. He is still tops according to poll conducted by HeismanPundit.com, which polls 13 voters for the trophy, according to the newspaper.
The last Stanford player to win the Heisman, awarded annually to whom a pool of voters think is the best player in college football, was quarterback Jim Plunkett in 1970. Plunkett went on to win the Super Bowl with the Raiders.
Luck is still on top for a list of reasons, the newspaper says. First, he has nationwide name recognition for finishing second in Heisman voting last year to current pro QB Cam Newton, as well as his status as top NFL prospect.
Two, the consensus is that the Oregon loss wasn't Luck's fault -- it's a football team, after all, and Luck's offensive line struggled with protection, the running game was sluggish, and one of his two interceptions bounced off of a receiver's chest. (That, and Oregon is pretty good at football).
Last, there's not much elite competition. LSU, the top team in the country, doesn't have a standout quarterback. Houston QB Case Keenum, the signal-caller with the best stats, plays in Conference USA.
In any event, Stanford has no room for error. The Cardinal -- and Luck -- must defeat Cal this weekend and Notre Dame over Thanksgiving weekend to stand a chance.