Dallas Colleges: Stepfan Taylor

Instant analysis: OSU 41, Stanford 38 (OT)

January, 2, 2012

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The offenses fizzled early, exploded late and the two marquee playmakers in the this game, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, shined on the brightest stage. It was so good, 60 minutes couldn’t contain it. Here’s how it all went down, with Oklahoma State winning 41-38 over Stanford in overtime in the desert:

How the game was won: In the first overtime, after Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson missed a 43-yard field goal attempt (he previously missed a 35-yard attempt for the win as time expired in regulation), Brandon Weeden connected with Colton Chelf on a 24-yard pass down to the Stanford 1-yard line. Weeden took a knee to center the ball, setting up a 22-yard field goal that Quinn Sharp nailed.

Second guessing: Trailing 28-21, an interesting decision by OSU coach Mike Gundy to kick a 19-yard field goal rather than going for it on fourth-and-goal at the Stanford 1-yard line. Not saying it was the wrong call, but clearly it was the conservative one. Hey, they won.

Stanford player of the game: As good as Luck was, running back Stepfan Taylor was fantastic, carrying 35 times for 177 yards and two touchdowns. He made holes when they weren’t there and exploded through the ones that were.

Oklahoma State player of the game: Blackmon was everything the Cardinal thought he would be -- and a whole lot more. The wide receiver caught eight balls for 186 yards and three touchdowns. He was clearly the most athletic player on the field.

What it means: For two teams feeling more than a little disrespected for being left out of the national championship game, both showed why they there were among the nation’s elite this season. Oklahoma State was the benefactor of a couple of missed field goals, but fought their way back all game and proved to be the more clutch team in overtime. For the Cardinal, it’s a disappointing end to the Luck era -- one of the most successful stretches in school history.

First Quarter: Stanford 7, OSU 0

January, 2, 2012
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A little different start than the Rose Bowl.

The lone touchdown was a 53-yard, play-action touchdown pass from Andrew Luck to Ty Montgomery.

Outside of that, we haven't seen too many offensive highlights (though Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor already has 61 yards on six carries).

This was the first time all season OSU had been held scoreless in the first quarter.

However, we've had plenty of defensive highlights from both teams.

Among the top defensive plays of the quarter:
  • Terrence Brown picking off Brandon Weeden on his first pass attempt of the game. Justin Gilbert also grabbed his fifth interception of the year off of Luck at the end of the quarter. Though neither team could turn the interceptions into points.
  • OSU's Richetti Jones sacking Luck on a crucial third down (just the 10th sack the Cardinal have allowed this season).
  • Stanford linebacker Jarek Lancaster making an outstanding open-field tackle on Isaiah Anderson -- also on third down.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

December, 5, 2011
Stanford Cardinal (11-1) vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys (11-1)

Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Stanford take by Stanford blogger Kevin Gemmell: Welcome back to the BCS. The Cardinal return after smoking Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl last season -- many thinking it was the final game for coach Jim Harbaugh and quarterback Andrew Luck.

Harbaugh left, Luck stayed. And he turned in a Heisman-worthy season, throwing 35 touchdowns to nine interceptions, including a perfect 26-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the red zone.

With a trio of top-flight tight ends -- headlined by Coby Fleener -- Luck has proven why he's considered the No. 1 NFL prospect. But he's not the only top draft pick on the team. Offensive tackle Jonathan Martin is considered one of the two best left tackles in college football and guard David DeCastro is the best interior lineman in the country.

The tight ends -- Fleener, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo -- have accounted for more than half of Luck's 35 passing touchdowns on the season.

But what makes Stanford go is its balance. Stepfan Taylor has a second-straight 1,000 yard season, and he's done it platooning with Tyler Gaffney, Jeremy Stewart and Anthony Wilkerson.

Defensively, Chase Thomas leads a front seven that is one of the best in college football. The loss of inside linebacker Shayne Skov in the third game of the season was a blow to the defense, but youngsters Jarek Lancaster and A.J. Tarpley have filled the void nicely -- steadily improving every week.

Oklahoma State take from Big 12 blogger David Ubben: The Cowboys are best known for their offense, and for good reason. Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon are one of the nation's best pass-catch combos, and between Blackmon's physical nature and Weeden's accuracy, they're a nightmare for defenses.

Making matters more difficult is Joseph Randle, who has quietly had one of the best seasons of any running back in the Big 12. He's racked up 1,193 rushing yards with 23 (!) rushing touchdowns. Only three players in college football have more. The first-year starter might be the Cowboys' secret weapon.

Defensively, the raw numbers aren't great for the Cowboys, but those rumors you've heard? They're true. The defense is a lot better than most give them credit. The Cowboys are an efficient defense that plays well when it counts, and rank second nationally with a plus-20 turnover margin. Tough to beat that.

Quinn Sharp and Justin Gilbert make things interesting in special teams, too. Sharp leads the nation in touchbacks, is one of the Big 12's best place kickers, and would be one of the nation's best in punting average -- if he had enough attempts. Gilbert is a dangerous return man who already has four touchdown returns in his first two seasons.