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Oklahoma State vs. Stanford Has Promise
December 31, 2011
By Wendell Barnhouse | Correspondent

Oklahoma State came within a just-missed field goal of an undefeated season and a berth in the BCS Championship game. The Cowboys, though, have still put together the greatest season in school history.

The Big 12 Conference champions, who finished No. 3 in the final BCS standings, will face Stanford (11-1) in the Fiesta Bowl – a game that might wind up being better than the BCS title game in New Orleans. The Cowboys (11-1) finished No. 3 in the final BCS standings.

"We all would have loved to play in the national championship. I think that would have been the best matchup, but we can't," Oklahoma State defensive end Jamie Blatnick said. "We just have to take our frustrations out on Stanford."

The Cardinal's only loss came to Pacific-12 Conference champion Oregon. That result appeared to clear the way for Oklahoma State's path to the BCS title game. Six days later, though, the Cowboys lost at Iowa State 37-31 in double overtime. Quinn Sharp's field goal near the end of regulation could have won the game for Oklahoma State but it missed by inches.

"Obviously it's a little bit disappointing, but we did everything in our power, with what happened at Iowa State, to give ourselves a chance," Cowboys senior quarterback Brandon Weeden said. "To see how short we were, it's tough to swallow."

Weeden, who in two years as a starter has set most of the school's passing records, will be playing his final game. With Andrew Luck at quarterback for Stanford, the Fiesta presents an intriguing matchup

"He's got all those tools and all the skills that you look for in a quarterback," Stanford coach David Shaw said of Luck. "And right on top there with everything else is that he's an absolute competitor that loves the game and loves when the game's on the line and loves when the ball is in his hands."

Oklahoma State junior Justin Blackmon, the two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award that goes to the top collegiate wide receiver, is expected to skip his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. The consensus All-American has 113 receptions for 1,336 yards and 15 touchdowns.

"The quarterback and receiver combo, Weeden to Blackmon, is outstanding to watch as a football fan," Shaw said.

There's also an interesting contrast regarding turnovers. Oklahoma State has forced 42 to lead FBS. The Cowboys have scored 181 points off those turnovers. Stanford has committed just 15 turnovers - fewer than all but eight teams in college football.

"That's something we put a lot of emphasis on and take a lot of pride in it," Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Bill Young said of his unit forcing turnovers. "We have a two-whistle system, where the first whistle is where the offense can stop running, and the second whistle, we'll quit trying to strip it, but up until then, we're doing everything we can to take the ball away."

Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma State vs. Stanford

Need to know: 7:30 p.m., Jan. 2, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz., ESPN.
Team records: Oklahoma State 11-1, Stanford 11-1.

Scouting Oklahoma State
Brandon Weeden is 11th nationally in passing efficiency and receiver Justin Blackmon is second nationally in receptions per game and eighth in receiving yards per game. They combined for big numbers in last year's bowl game and the Cowboys will hope they can duplicate that in the Fiesta. Oklahoma State's defense has spent the season trying to convince observers that it is better than its numbers (107th nationally in total defense). The Cowboys have forced 42 turnovers, the most in the FBS.

Scouting Stanford
Quarterback Andrew Luck, a two-time Heisman Trophy runner up, is outstanding passer and runner. Luck, is fifth nationally in passing efficiency. He has thrown for 35 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. The Cardinal are 11th in total offense with a balanced attack – 207 yards rushing, 273 yards passing per game. Junior Stephan Taylor averages 96 yards per game and is Stanford's leading rusher. The Cardinal are 25th in total defense.

Short yardage
Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden (age 28) and Stanford wide receiver Jordan Pratt (age 26) were teammates in 2005 on the Class-A Columbus Catfish, the Los Angeles Dodgers' former minor league affiliate in Georgia. … Senior wide receiver Chris Owosu, who has suffered three concussions in the last 13 months, is not expected to play for Stanford. … Stanford's only loss was against Pac-12 champion Oregon (53-30 on Nov. 12). …The Cardinal's Andrew Luck is the son of West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck.
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