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) came up with the last one on Quinn Sharp's 22-yard field goal in overtime to win its first BCS bowl game, earning the right to stake claim at being No. 1 in The Associated Press poll should Alabama beat LSU in the BCS title game.
``Our team rallied. Every time we got down, they just found a way to come back,'' said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy, who dedicated the victory to the four people who died in the Nov. 17 plane crash that killed Oklahoma State women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna.
The Cowboys, who never led until the final play, were fortunate to get a chance in overtime.
After getting the ball back with 2:35 left in the fourth quarter and the score tied, Luck drove the Cardinal within field goal range in the closing seconds. Stanford couldn't finish it off, though. Redshirt freshman Jordan Williamson hooked a 35-yard field goal wide left as time expired, then missed from 43 yards in overtime.
Williamson was sobbing in front of his locker after the game and didn't speak with reporters.
``In the end, we lost, and I'm as much to blame as anyone,'' Luck said.
Luck 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 (11-2) had 590 yards - nearly 200 more than Oklahoma State - but couldn't pull out their second straight BCS bowl victory.
``Our kids played hard,'' Stanford coach David Shaw said. ``They just didn't finish the game.''
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. He is expected to be selected high in the first round.
Weeden threw what he thought was the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime, a 25-yarder to Colton Chelf. But the celebration was put on hold after officials put the ball just inside the 1-yard line after a video review.
Oklahoma State didn't go for the touchdown, instead setting up the field goal attempt by Sharp, who sent the Cowboys rushing onto the field after his kick went through the uprights.
``I think coast to coast, people have a lot of respect for Oklahoma State football,'' Gundy said. ``What a great job by our players to battle back all night.''
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 4 1/2 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 - and then again on the field after the replay and Sharp's kick.
Oklahoma State Bowl History (Record: 14-8)
|Jan. 2, 2012||Fiesta Bowl-Oklahoma St. 41, Stanford 38 (OT)|
|Dec. 29, 2010||Alamo Bowl-Oklahoma St. 36, Arizona 10|
|Jan. 2, 2010||Cotton Bowl-Mississippi 21, Oklahoma St. 7|
|Dec. 30, 2008||Holiday Bowl-Oregon 42, Oklahoma St. 31|
|Dec. 31, 2007||Insight Bowl-Oklahoma St. 49, Indiana 33|
|Dec. 28, 2006||Independence Bowl-Oklahoma St. 34, Alabama 31|
|Dec. 29, 2004||Alamo Bowl-Ohio St. 33, Oklahoma St. 7|
|Jan. 2, 2004||Cotton Bowl-Mississippi 31, Oklahoma St. 28|
|Dec. 27, 2002||Houston Bowl-Oklahoma St. 33, Southern Miss. 23|
|Dec. 30, 1997||Alamo Bowl-Purdue 33, Oklahoma St. 20|
|Dec. 30, 1989||Holiday Bowl-Oklahoma St. 62, Wyoming 14|
|Dec. 25, 1987||Sun Bowl-Oklahoma St. 35, West Virginia 33|
|Dec. 30, 1985||Gator Bowl-Florida St. 34, Oklahoma St. 23|
|Dec. 28, 1984||Gator Bowl-Oklahoma St. 21, South Carolina 14|
|Dec. 31, 1983||Bluebonnet Bowl-Oklahoma St. 24, Baylor 14|
|Dec. 12, 1981||Independence Bowl-Texas A&M 33, Oklahoma St. 16|
|Dec. 18, 1976||Tangerine Bowl-Oklahoma St. 49, Brigham Young 21|
|Dec. 28, 1974||Fiesta Bowl-Oklahoma St. 16, Brigham Young 6|
|Dec. 13, 1958||Blue Grass Bowl-Oklahoma St. 15, Florida St. 6|
|Jan. 1, 1949||Delta Bowl-William & Mary 20, Oklahoma St. 0|
|Jan. 1, 1946||Sugar Bowl-Oklahoma St. 33, St. Mary's 13|
|Jan. 1, 1945||Cotton Bowl-Oklahoma St. 34, Texas Christian 0|