Nothing was delivered Saturday at Stanford Stadium at least nothing if you were looking for closure, or even hints about the rest of the college football season.
Then again, it was one game out of 700-some-odd, so you werent entitled to much.
Andrew Luck did not re-win the Heisman Trophy despite going 20-for-30 for 255 yards and four touchdowns. Stanford did not guarantee itself a BCS bowl berth, although the Fiesta Bowl seems almost a surety. Future NFL draft money was not redistributed, except maybe for tight end Coby Fleener. The Tebow Revolution did produce another 79 yards (before sacks) for the Running Quarterbacks Rainy Day fund, but that wasnt the point, either.
RECAP: Stanford beats Notre Dame 28-14, finishes regular season 11-1
It was, put simply, for Stanford to get in its last shot before the bowl games are distributed and Luck gets to say good-bye to the place that nurtured and propelled him and became further enriched by him.
And there, achievement could be measured. Stanford won comfortably, 28-14, Notre Dame was exposed as a talented but painfully slow team, Fleener widened his lead as the best-named good player in college football with two TD receptions, and now all that is left is for the guys in loudly colored blazers to descend bearing invitations to strange and exotic lands.
Like Tempe, Arizona, or San Antonio, Texas.
Luck held his place in the Heisman morass, though Robert Griffin of Baylor, Matt Barkley of USC and Trent Richardson of Alabama had better days. The only teams in the Top 25 to lose were teams playing higher-ranked teams, so there wasnt a lot of movement in the polls.
So what were down to, frankly, is this: Stanford goes to the Fiesta Bowl unless Georgia wins the SEC Championship game against LSU. And Luck remains a man with lots of heartfelt testimonials (He does things no other quarterback does, is head coach David Shaws line) in a highly political election where regional voting is the order of the day. And Barkleys insertion into the argument does not help.
And then comes the legacy designations. Stanford is 23-2 over the past two seasons, one of the top five football schools in the country by virtue of being voted there by computers and humans alike. They are in such good position that there is almost no way for them not to get at least most of their just desserts, and in the richly corrupt and stratified world of college football, a team getting what it has coming without shaming itself is a pretty impressive thing indeed.
Indeed, Stanford carved out time for its seniors to get their piece of the stage, most notably Chris Owusu, the oft-concussed wide receiver who dressed in the teams red-on-black one-off uniforms, was introduced with the rest of his classmates and even lined up for a play as a gesture of respect from Shaw to the guy who has given more of his body and has been hit harder than anyone else on this team.
It was a gesture that the best teams get to make because they have some margin for sentimentality. Stanford built that margin widely enough that even the loss to Oregon two weeks ago couldnt strip it away, and it got even easier when Arkansas got whipped by LSU on Friday.
The value of that is that Stanford will almost certainly move to fifth in the BCS standings Sunday and eventually to fourth, where it can be guaranteed its BCS bowl game. It wont be the title game, which was a long shot, or the Rose Bowl, which died with the loss to Oregon, but it will do nicely as the end of an era of very nice indeed.
It will be known, ultimately, as the Andrew Luck Era, which means that a number of very good players will be relegated to Also Starring roles, but thats how it works in show business. All you can do is hope for the longest run you can manage, and Stanford got that, and then some.
In short, the status remained very quo indeed Saturday. And at Stanford, thats some pretty damned fine quo.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com