Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 38
Published 12:00 am Monday, January 2, 2012
By John Marshall
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Brandon Weeden threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns to Justin Blackmon in his final collegiate game, and Quinn Sharp hit a 22-yard field goal in overtime to give No. 3 Oklahoma State a 41-38 win over Andrew Luck and No. 4 Stanford in a wildly entertaining Fiesta Bowl on Monday night.
The most anticipated postseason game outside of the BCS championship, the Fiesta Bowl was an impressive offensive show, two of the nation’s best teams trading big plays and scores.
Oklahoma State (12-1) had the last one on Sharp’s game-winner to win in its first BCS bowl game, earning a chance to stake claim at being No. 1 in The Associated Press poll should Alabama beat LSU in the BCS title game.
Stanford (11-2) had a chance to win in regulation, but redshirt freshman Jordan Williamson hooked a 35-yard field goal wide left as time expired. He also missed from 43 yards in overtime.
Usually balanced Oklahoma State had just 15 yards rushing on 13 carries, but Weeden made up for it, completing 29 of 42 passes and the three scores to Blackmon, who had eight catches for 186 yards.
After the game, Blackmon said he will skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
Weeden did his best to keep up with Luck, who hit 27 of 31 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns in his final game before heading to the NFL. Stepfan Taylor ran for 177 yards and a pair of scores, and the Cardinal had 590 yards — nearly 200 more than Oklahoma State — but lost a chance for their second straight BCS bowl victory after Williamson’s two misses.
The Fiesta Bowl needed a pick-me-up game after the year it had.
Last year’s game was a dud on pretty much all accounts. Connecticut had trouble filling its allotment of tickets and keeping up with Oklahoma — a 44-10 rout — leading to a big dip in the ratings.
Not long after that, the bowl got tangled in controversy, nearly losing its BCS status following financial improprieties that were uncovered and led to the firing of executive director John Junker.
This matchup figured to be the ticket to match the golden jackets worn by Fiesta Bowl officials.
Oklahoma State has an electrifying offense — second in scoring, third in total yards — run by the 28-year-old Weeden and featuring Blackmon, the two-time Biletnikoff Award winner.
The Cowboys also came in with a chip on their shoulder, believing they should have gotten a shot at the BCS title game instead of it being a rematch of the field-goal-kicking Game of the Century earlier this season between Alabama and LSU.
Finishing a tantalizingly close .0086 behind the Crimson Tide in the BCS standings, Oklahoma State had plenty to prove, with booster T. Boone Pickens saying the Cowboys should get first-place votes in The Associated Press poll with a Fiesta win and a loss by LSU in the title game.
Across the field was Stanford, another one-loss team that could have a legitimate beef with the BCS system.
The Cardinal lost to eventual Pac-12 champion Oregon and crushed nearly everyone else with an offense that was top-15 in scoring and yardage. Stanford also has Luck, the two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up and all-but-certain No. 1 overall NFL pick, complemented by a powerful running game that’s as good as any anywhere.
The Fiesta Bowl had a pretty good lead-in, too: Oregon’s wild, 45-38 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
Stanford was the only team to live up to the billing in the early going.
Manhandling Oklahoma State’s defense up front, the Cardinal had 225 yards by early in the second quarter and led 14-0 after Luck hit Ty Montgomery on a 53-yard touchdown pass and Jeremy Stewart ran for a 24-yard score.
Oklahoma State’s offense was stranded in the desert early: Weeden threw an interception on his first pass, the Cowboys had 27 yards while failing to score in the opening quarter for the first time this season and Blackmon was nowhere to be found.
That changed in the second — and quickly.
Blackmon caught his first pass by splitting the middle of Stanford’s defense for a 43-yard touchdown catch, then showed off his power on the next, brushing off a defender like a jacket over his shoulder before racing for a 67-yard touchdown that tied it 14-all.
Two big catches, 110 yards and the offensive show was on.
Stanford answered with an 80-yard drive in eight plays, capped by Taylor’s 4-yard touchdown run. The Cardinal left too much time, though, and the Cowboys raced down the field for Weeden’s first career rushing touchdown, an ugly-but-effective 2-yarder that made it 21-all at halftime.
Stanford opened the second half with a yard-churning drive for a 6-yard touchdown pass from Luck to Zach Ertz to put the Cardinal up 28-21.
Oklahoma State had a great opportunity after recovering Geoff Meinken’s fumble at Stanford’s 4-yard line, but had to settle for a field goal. After a Stanford field goal, Weeden found Blackmon for a third time, on a 17-yard crossing pass that tied the game at 31.
Taylor put Stanford up 38-31 with 41/2 minutes left, ducking behind Stanford’s massive offensive line for a 1-yard touchdown. Oklahoma State answered quickly, moving 67 yards in less than two minutes to tie it on Joseph Randle’s 4-yard touchdown run.
Luck seemingly had the Cardinal in position after moving 63 yards, but Williamson couldn’t come through, sending the game to overtime, where the Cowboys celebrated by mobbing each other in front of the OSU student section.
The Associated Press