The case for Stanford

Andrew Luck isn't the only reason behind Stanford's recent domination. Jason O. Watson/US Presswire

Last season, Jim Harbaugh's Stanford Cardinal team could have won the national championship.

It's true. In fact, the Cardinal would have matched up better with the Auburn Tigers in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game than the Oregon Ducks did. Had Stanford beaten Oregon last October and then finished the regular season undefeated (remember, the Cardinal jumped out to a 21-3 lead, on the road, against the Ducks last year), it may very well have been Andrew Luck, not Cam Newton, lifting the championship trophy.

After all, the Cardinal were nasty, dominant and peaking at year's end. (They destroyed a good Virginia Tech Hokies team in an uncompetitive FedEx Orange Bowl.) They had a stout defense and a passing game that would have done a better job attacking Auburn's vulnerable pass defense than the Ducks' Darron Thomas did. (Thomas is a great quarterback, but he's nowhere near the downfield thrower Luck is.)

Nope, it's not a stretch to think that the Cardinal were good enough to win a national title last season -- and the same can be said of a 2011 Stanford team that deserves to be considered right up there among the national elite. Here's why the Alabama Crimson Tide and LSU Tigers should take notice: