2011 Fiesta Bowl Recap
Stanford Cardinal vs Oklahoma State State Cowboys - Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 38 (OT)
The Stanford Cardinal had the 2012 Fiesta Bowl in the palm of their hand… and then placed far too much faith in a freshman placekicker. As a result, the Oklahoma State Cowboys remained in the middle of the Bowl Championship Series debate while completing the most successful season of football in the history of the program.
Yes, Oklahoma State completed a 12-1 regular season by registering its best win of a long and grueling campaign. The Cowboys, playing in their first-ever BCS bowl, made the moment count by outlasting Stanford in overtime to capture the 2012 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. With the win, Oklahoma State could make some poll mischief should Alabama defeat LSU in next week’s BCS National Championship Game. The Pokes would have an argument for a split title if Alabama can pull off the upset of the Tigers in the Superdome. It’s all because they overcame Stanford in a contest that didn’t look very promising for the Cowboys for most of the night.
Until the final play of regulation time, Stanford carried the play in suburban Phoenix. The Cardinal were dinged up over the course of the regular season, but after a month of healing, they looked better than at any point in the regular season. Tight end Zach Ertz returned from an injury to give quarterback Andrew Luck a reliable target in third-and-5-type situations. Stanford’s receiving core was thinned out when the Cardinal received a 53-30 thrashing at the hands of Oregon on Nov. 12, but with considerably improved health on this night in the Valley of the Sun, Stanford looked whole on offense again, and the results spoke for themselves. Luck was simply spectacular, completing his college career by hitting 27 of 31 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Stanford collected 590 yards of offense, mixing run and pass to near perfection against an Oklahoma State defense that got worn down in the second half.
OSU and quarterback Brandon Weeden were able to keep pace in this gunfight, scoring touchdowns each time Stanford took the lead in this game. Weeden was able to get the ball to his stud receiver, Justin Blackmon, whenever the Cowboys were in a jam. Blackmon finished the night with 8 catches for 186 yards and three touchdowns, all of them in pressure-cooker situations. Blackmon also caught multiple fourth-down passes when the game’s outcome remained in the balance. Oklahoma State was able to attain a 38-all tie heading into the last two minutes, but there was just one problem with that scenario: Luck had the ball in his hands with a chance to win.
Then, the improbable happened: Stanford coach David Shaw took the ball out of Luck’s hands, and that’s when the worm turned in Glendale.
Stanford drove down to the Oklahoma State 20 with 45 seconds left. The Cardinal had a full stack of timeouts and, accordingly, the ability to stop the clock after an in-bounds running play. However, Shaw did not call those timeouts, settling for a 35-yard field goal (from the OSU 18) instead of working the ball inside the 5 for a chip shot or, perhaps, for a touchdown which would have eliminated the need to trust freshman kicker Jordan Williamson. However, the decision was made by Shaw, and when Williamson yanked his 35-yard kick far to the left, Oklahoma State got its get-out-of-jail-free card. Given new life in overtime, a roused OSU defense got a stop and forced Williamson to try another field goal. The rattled and shaken kicker missed again, enabling the Cowboys to get their own 22-yard chip shot from kicker Quinn Sharp. That short boot – a glorified extra point – didn’t miss, and the Cowboys staked their claim to being the No. 2 team in the United States.
If Alabama beats LSU, that number could change to “1.”
By: Matt Zemek
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