STANFORD -- Stanford and Notre Dame play for the Legends Trophy, an Irish crystal bowl mounted on a California redwood base that takes its name from the teams' 1925 Rose Bowl meeting, which was said to contain more legends than any game ever played.
But there will be more at stake Saturday in South Bend, Ind., than mere hardware. This one is also about the software.
The winner will be viewed favorably by the Bowl Championship Series computers when the first standings are released Sunday.
The loser has a more difficult road, especially if the loser is Stanford.
"This is an elimination game for Stanford,'' said a high-ranking BCS official, who requested anonymity.
"If they beat Notre Dame, they wouldn't lock anything up, but they'd be on the radar. If they lose, it would be tough to overcome. Then it's the Rose Bowl (as the Pac-12 champion) or nowhere.''
Despite its loss to Washington and narrow escape against unranked Arizona, the Cardinal (4-1) is a computer favorite because its five opponents to date have a combined record of 19-8.
That circuitry support translates into a No. 12 ranking in the latest CBSSports.com projection of the BCS standings.
With a victory in South Bend, Stanford would almost assuredly be in the top 10 when the real thing is unveiled. Yes, there's a long way to go, but Stanford could afford another loss -- for instance, at Oregon -- and remain in contention for one of the four at-large positions.
But a loss to Notre Dame would leave Stanford with one path into the BCS: Run the table, win the Pac-12 title and pack for the Rose Bowl.
A loss would have implications for the Pac-12, as well.
"The league has two shots to beat Notre Dame with Stanford and USC,'' the BCS official said. "It has to take matters into its own hands.''
The Irish (5-0) are eligible for the BCS if they win nine games and finish in the top 14. Both criteria are well within reach.
Thanks to victories over Michigan, Michigan State and Miami, the Irish are No. 6 in the projected standings with a manageable schedule down the stretch.
If they beat Stanford and win the games they're supposed to win, they would finish 10-2 (at worst) and lock up a berth.
That would reduce the number of BCS at-large slots from four to three.
The No. 2 team from the Southeastern Conference (think: Alabama, LSU, Florida or South Carolina) will get one of them.
The No. 2 team from the Big 12 (West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas or Oklahoma) probably will get another.
Under certain circumstances, the Pac-12's second team could be the victim of BCS box-out -- as was the case with Cal in 2004 and Oregon a year later.
The conference has more options if Notre Dame is removed from the at-large equation.
Stanford can start that process Saturday.