NCF Nation: 2012 Fiesta Bowl

Bryan Campbell is defying the odds

January, 3, 2013
EUGENE, Ore. -- Gary Campbell has a plane to catch. He's flying to Florida later in the afternoon to see a running back recruit, but first he has to swing by his house to pack and say hello/goodbye to the toughest kid he's ever met.

Campbell knows running backs: He's coached nearly every 1,000-yard rusher Oregon has ever had, including this season's All-American, Kenjon Barner. And no major-college assistant football coach has spent more time at a program than Campbell. Right now, it's 30 years and counting.

So Campbell makes the short drive from the Ducks' football facility to his gorgeous little neighborhood in Eugene. He drives a Mercedes. His collection of tailored suits is legendary at Oregon. His holiday-decorated house sits in a cul-de-sac, and in the back of the property you'll find a pond and bubbling fountain. Life is good.

And then you walk into his home and the first thing you hear is the gentle sound of what turns out to be a respirator. You meet his wife Alola, a loving, headstrong woman from Mississippi who married Gary in 1982. You meet a nurse named Angela. And you meet Bryan.

Click here to read the rest of Gene Wojciechowski's story.
Taking a look back at some of the best and worst moments from the Pac-12's bowl season.

Best overall performance (team): We're a field goal away from flipping a coin between Stanford and Oregon. But the Ducks won, and to the victor go the spoils. Say what you want about Wisconsin being overrated; Oregon beat a very good team with one of the most productive college running backs in history, and the Ducks did it on a major stage.

Best offensive performance (individual): Keith Price outdueled Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, passing for 438 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for three more scores. And the Huskies lost! Someone on the Washington defense better be carrying his books around campus until the start of next season.

[+] EnlargeKeith Price
Brendan Maloney/US PresswireWashington's Keith Price passed for 438 yards and four touchdowns and also ran for another three touchdowns in a losing effort against Baylor.
Best offensive performance (team): As good as Washington's offensive show was against Baylor, Oregon did it against a tougher opponent and under a brighter spotlight. LaMichael James and De'Anthony Thomas both went for more than 100 yards, Lavasier Tuinei turned in season highs in catches (eight) and yards (158) to go with two touchdowns and the offensive line had its way with Wisconsin.

Best defensive performance (individual): In the conference's five losses, teams gave up an average of 41 points. Still, Cal first-team all-conference linebacker Mychal Kendricks did all he could to limit Texas to 21, notching nine solo tackles (10 total) and 1.5 tackles for a loss.

Best defensive performance (team): Pass.

Best offensive performance in a losing effort: Andrew Luck's one interception was the lone stain on an otherwise fantastic performance, in which he completed 27 of 31 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns. He was 15-of-15 on all of Stanford's scoring drives and 4-for-4 on the final drive that set up the almost-game-winning field goal.

Worst offensive performance: Both Cal and UCLA faced fairly tough defenses in Texas and Illinois, respectively, and their 24 points combined reflected that. (For the record, Washington had 35 by halftime and Oregon had 28 at the half.) But the nod goes to Cal for 7 rushing yards on 36 attempts. That's 0.2 yards per carry. ASU was actually worse with minus-11 rushing yards, but at least it put up 24 points (well, 17 if you take away Rashad Ross' 98-yard kick return).

Worst defensive performance: As a conference, Pac-12 teams gave up an average of 455 yards in their bowl games. Washington was the worst offender with 777 yards yielded.

Best bang for buck: Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas. Two carries, two touchdowns, 155 yards and a 77.5 yards-per-carry average.

Best supporting cast: While Price was fantastic, lest we forget that Chris Polk ran for 147 yards, Jermaine Kearse caught five balls for 198 yards and a score and Devin Aguilar added two receiving touchdowns.

Best holiday spirit: Cal certainly got into the season, giving the ball away five times to Texas.

Best "Oh jeez" moment: Stanford running back Jeremy Stewart taking out teammate Ty Montgomery after he tried to run a kickoff out of the end zone. Stewart, a fifth-year senior, stopped the true freshman right at the line and dropped him, much to the chagrin of 69,927 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Worst "Oh jeez" moment: Watching Dennis Erickson try to call a timeout when ASU had fourth-and-goal at the Boise 1-yard line. Then watching his face as Jamar Taylor picked off Brock Osweiler and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown.

One more year was the right call

January, 4, 2012
Andrew LuckAP Photo/Matt York Andrew Luck completed 67 percent of his passes and recorded 82 TDs to 22 interceptions at Stanford.
No Heisman Trophy. No national championship. Not even a BCS bowl victory. But Andrew Luck said he made the right decision to come back to Stanford for one more season.

And he's absolutely right.

Luck is a better quarterback today than he was one year ago. Not just mechanically, but from a football IQ point of view. Learning on the job in the NFL, he probably would have picked up the same knowledge, but he would have taken a lot more hits doing it.

By staying another year, Luck learned to process an NFL offense from a former NFL quarterbacks coach as the skipper. That's a tremendous advantage over most quarterbacks entering the draft. Naturally, he would have liked to have won one more national award in particular and seen his team play in the title game. But he's more NFL ready right now than he was last season when he was still the presumptive No. 1 pick.

"Yes, it was worth it," Luck said following the Fiesta Bowl. "Not to say I enjoyed every moment, because I didn't. But I would never regret it."

Luck is still on pace to earn his degree -- probably the most important reason he decided to return -- and along the way he raised Stanford football from a neat little story -- those plucky little Cardinal of last year -- to a national championship contender.

In his final Stanford contest, he put together maybe his best game -- completing 27-of-31 balls for 347 yards and two touchdowns. The one interception by Justin Gilbert was both a bad throw and a great play by Gilbert. Outside of that, Luck was near flawless.

But as always, he doesn't measure his success by what he does statistically.

"I think winning has everything to do with your best and worst game," Luck said. "So no, I don't feel like this was my best game."

Some final numbers on Luck's career; he finishes with 82 passing touchdowns to 22 interceptions, 713-of-1064 (67 percent) passes completed , 9,430 passing yards and a 31-7 record.

"Since he's officially not completely mine anymore, I will completely go over the top and say that he's a Hall of Fame college football player," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "They come around every 20 years or so. He hates to hear that, but it's the doggone truth."

So there's another accolade Luck can lock up -- though he'll have to wait until his NFL career is over. But Luck didn't come back for halls of fame or individual awards. He came back for his degree, his teammates and the chance to have one last go of it with those guys.

"I felt like I grew a lot as a person, as a player," Luck said. "Just in life, I learned a lot. Got a chance to be around great guys ... I think we've forged unbelievable friendships and had a chance to play a great college football game. Definitely worth it."

Because of the way Shaw and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton mentally challenged Luck this year with the play calling, expansive scheme and no-huddle option (5-for-5 on that final drive, by the way), he's going to be one of those rare players that comes into the NFL ready to go. Naturally, he's going to take lumps and make mistakes. All rookie quarterbacks do. But the extra year put him closer to a Stanford degree and gives him a head start into what could be a fantastic NFL career.

Shaw had been joking leading up to the Fiesta Bowl that he was trying to entice Luck to come back for another season. But now is the right time for him to go. Luck has nothing more to learn from another year at Stanford. Shaw has taught him all he can at this level. Luck still has a lot to learn about being an NFL quarterback. But if we've learned anything about Luck from his time at Stanford, it's that he's a quick study. That will be just as important at the next level as his quick feet and quick release.

Teammates rally around Williamson

January, 3, 2012
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jordan Williamson is going to wake up this morning, and it’s going to hurt. He’ll wake up Wednesday and Thursday and Friday morning, and it’s going to hurt. Then next week, it won’t hurt as much. And eventually the redshirt freshman kicker will get to the point where he can realize that while he didn’t win Tuesday night’s Fiesta Bowl, he certainly shouldn’t shoulder all of the blame for losing it.

Williamson had a rough night. Having only missed three field goals all season, he missed 3 of 4 attempts in a 41-38 overtime loss to Oklahoma State -- including a 35-yarder as time expired that would have given the Cardinal a victory. While Williamson did not address the media after the game, his teammates were quick to defend him.

“He’s made a million kicks for us in the past and kept us in games and won us games,” said tight end Coby Fleener. “We will never hang a guy out to dry, just like we don’t put one guy on this team on a pedestal. He’s still a hell of a kicker.”

Many of the defensive players say the blame is on them. Had they stopped Oklahoma State on fourth down on the previous drive, rather than allowing the Cowboys to convert a fourth-and-3 that went for 21 yards to Justin Blackmon, the field goal attempt wouldn’t even be an issue. Then there were Blackmon’s 186 receiving yards and three touchdowns. There were plenty of game-changing moments in the 59 minutes, 57 seconds of regulation that could have prevented it coming down to Williamson’s leg in the final three ticks.

“Put yourself in that situation and it’s tough,” said quarterback Andrew Luck. “It’s very tough. I know guys will rally around him. He’s got a very bright future ahead of him. I know the media tends to want a scapegoat or a hero. But that’s just not the case in any football game.”

Williamson was 12-of-15 heading into the contest and was 6-of-7 on field goals between 30 and 39 yards this year. In addition to the kick at the end of regulation, he missed a 41-yard attempt on Stanford’s opening drive and a 43-yard attempt in Stanford’s only overtime possession.

“We trust him,” said linebacker A.J. Tarpley. “We’d put him out there if there was a game tomorrow. Sometimes they don’t go in and sometimes they do. We had a lot of chances to win this game so it’s definitely not his fault.”

In Stanford’s locker room after the game, the scene was very un-fiesta-like. Teammates would stop by Williamson’s locker as a show of support.

“We love him, man,” said defensive end Ben Gardner. “That doesn’t change. He’s been solid as a rock all year. We had no doubt he would make the kick. But shoot, it’s football. Things happen. We all had bad plays tonight. It shouldn’t have come down to just that.”

Video: Looking back at thrilling Fiesta Bowl

January, 3, 2012

Kevin Gemmell, Ivan Maisel and David Ubben recap Oklahoma State's thrilling Fiesta Bowl win over Stanford.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Oklahoma State's season is over, and ended in rather dramatic fashion. Here's my take on the game from last night, but there's plenty about the game left unsaid. Here's a few leftover thoughts:
  • Good gracious, Justin Blackmon. I mentioned it in the postgame video, but this was probably the best game of his career in the last game of his career. The Cowboys needed every single yard he racked up, including a crazy catch in the fourth quarter to extend the game that, with all the late drama that followed, ended up getting overshadowed. On fourth-and-4 with a little more than three minutes left, he caught a short slant and took it 21 yards. Big-time play in a big-time spot. Three touchdown catches in a BCS bowl? He hadn't had three TDs all season, and hadn't done so since catching three against Tulsa in 2010. That was his second game in the season's first three games with three touchdowns.
  • Totally disagreed with Mike Gundy's decision to kick the field goal after the Colton Chelf touchdown was reversed. Did he not just watch Stanford? Bad mojo. You want to tell me the odds of Quinn Sharp making a 22-yard kick is higher than Brandon Weeden running a QB sneak or two from a half-yard out? No way. Oh well. Paid off for the Cowboys.
  • I know the OSU fans were mad about Stanford's band playing through the alma mater and postgame celebration, but oh man, when they're not making you mad, the band is awesome. They were led by -- who else? -- Hello Kitty and flanked by the tree mascot. It was my first time seeing a Stanford sporting event in person, and I wanted to take them all home with me.
  • I mostly loved that this game was everything we all thought it would be. Two offenses ill-equipped to stop the other. Both executed well. We got lots of points and lots of drama. Great stuff.
  • Can't say enough about the moment on the podium between Gundy and Shelley Budke. Gundy took the right approach by not talking about it before the game, but great move to dedicate the game to victims of the Nov. 17 plane crash that killed four people, including Kurt Budke, Oklahoma State's women's basketball coach. It's not overwrought. OSU is a close-knit university, and those deaths meant a lot to the players on the team. I touched on it in the postgame. A win like this doesn't change what happened, but it gives a lot of people who went through a lot of pain back then one big reason to smile. That's a great gift.
  • Great crowd. I think that came through on the TV broadcast, but this was great. Last year's game with OU and UConn not playing for a whole lot was pretty weak. This one was electric. About 80 percent of the lower bowl stood for almost the entire game, and those fans were loud.
  • The reaction on OSU's sideline after that missed kick to send the game into OT was pretty priceless. The jubilation was immediate, but when the players got to the sideline, you knew they knew how fortunate they were. A lot of guys could only look at each other and shake their heads. Cooper Bassett and Richetti Jones took some time to pray by themselves on the sideline after the kick. Here's guessing it was a prayer of gratitude.
  • If you missed it: Gundy absolutely did "The Gundy" on the podium before the TV broadcast of the trophy celebration began. It was exactly as amazing as you'd expect. His players were begging for it from below the stage. He delivered.
Justin BlackmonMatt Kartozian/US PresswireJustin Blackmon caught eight passes for 186 yards and three TDs in an emotional Fiesta Bowl victory.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With a finish as wild as that, it's a little hard to tell whether the tears stemmed from sadness or elation.

For most of Oklahoma State, the finish was the latter. For some, it was a whole lot of both.

Three seconds remained in a season that took Oklahoma State to heights it had never reached, and lows that changed lives forever.

With the game tied at 38, a few Cowboys knelt on the sidelines. Others couldn't watch.

The fans behind the end zone -- dressed in cardinal for Stanford and orange for Oklahoma State split evenly at the goal post -- would tell the bench if the season continued for a few more minutes.

Stanford redshirt freshman kicker Jordan Williamson sent the orange-clad Cowboys fans into a frenzy when his 35-yard kick sailed wide left, giving life to the Cowboys' season and setting off a storm of chest bumps.

Oklahoma State took advantage, grabbing a win in overtime, 41-38, when kicker Quinn Sharp drilled a 22-yard field goal to put a most emotional exclamation point on the Cowboys' dream season. This was the season Fiesta Bowl MVP Justin Blackmon and quarterback Brandon Weeden imagined when, last January, they told the nation they had more business to attend to in Stillwater. Big 12 champions. Fiesta Bowl champions.

History made.

"This was it," Weeden said, "This was sort of our fairy tale ending."

Albeit an anticlimactic one.

After stuffing Stanford and another Williamson miss, Oklahoma State got what it wanted.

Stanford dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for almost 42 minutes, compared to Oklahoma State's 18. Chances were good the Cowboys perhaps unfairly maligned defense would be on the field to decide the game.

The celebration that ensued after Williamson's miss wasn't one of euphoria, it was one of anticipation. Finally, a team that won the Big 12 and reached the BCS on the back of its offense would have its offense on the field to decide the game.

It delivered.

Weeden hit Colton Chelf -- both started their Oklahoma State careers as walk-ons -- for a senior-to-senior connection that looked like it sent the duo out in style with a game-winning touchdown.

"I just ran over the middle of the field and nobody was there," Chelf said. "I thought I was in."

The Cowboys mobbed Chelf and dogpiled in front of the OSU faithful in the end zone. Weeden emerged with a smile and a double fist pump. Blackmon ran out of the pile and celebrated with a kiss from his cheerleader girlfriend, Mariel Dunlap.

It was no postgame proposal a la Boise State on this same field in 2007, but it'd have to suffice on this night.

The Cowboys, though, would have to wait to celebrate their first 12-win season and first BCS win. An officials' review called Chelf down inside the 1, and Quinn Sharp would need to seal it with a kick.

He did, unleashing the orangest of evenings on the Arizona desert.

It came seven weeks after one of the darkest days in Oklahoma State history. The Cowboys awoke on the day of their Nov. 18 game against Iowa State to news that women's basketball coach Kurt Budke was among four killed in a plane crash. Later that night, the 10-0 Cowboys lost, too.

A friend and mentor was gone.

Trivial though it may suddenly seem, so was a national championship.

Monday night, though, Budke's wife Shelley stood on the podium and received the Fiesta Bowl trophy from coach Mike Gundy, who dedicated the game to the four killed in the crash. The Cowboys also added a patch to their helmets for the final two games with a "4" and the victims' initials in the logo. It sits next to an "AS" patch to honor Angela Spencer, the wife of running backs coach Glenn Spencer, who died on the night Oklahoma State beat Tulsa -- a game with a post-midnight kickoff because of a weather delay.

Monday's win can't change the past, but it can offer a brief moment of happiness to those still affected by literal sudden death in a game that's supposed to be about kids having fun.

Gundy hugged a teary-eyed Budke.

Plenty of tears surrounded the platform. Before the trophy presentation, Chad Clay, one of the school's top donors, gestured to the team and school he and others had written checks to over the years.

"Y'all don't understand what you just did," he said to a team wearing fresh Fiesta Bowl championship T-shirts. Years of frustration and beatings from Oklahoma. From 1989-2002, the Cowboys went to one bowl game.

Now, they'll probably finish the season as the nation's No. 2 team. They might have some idea of what they just did.

"This is probably the biggest win in Oklahoma State football history," Weeden said.

Indeed it is, even though it took a 44-10 beating of Oklahoma to get here, a win narrowly topped on Monday night.

Blackmon starred and rightfully took home the hardware as the game's best player, grabbing eight passes for 186 yards, three touchdowns and a whole lot of shedded tackles.

"That's what he's done all year long. You could tell they were set out to stop him," Weeden said. "It doesn't matter. You can't stop 81. Especially when he's pissed off."

Blackmon disagreed about his mental state after the offense's early struggles. Chelf admitted the offense was "rusty" from a month-long layover after the Bedlam beatdown. It was held without a point in the fourth quarter for the first time all season.

"I wouldn't say I was mad. Just irritated with what was going on," Blackmon said. "I knew we could play better. I just tried to help the team play as best they could. If that takes me getting mad, I guess I get mad and go out there and do it."

They did it. And starting with an unassuming news conference with a couple folding chairs and a table a year ago and all the way until tonight, they provided Oklahoma State with a season and two players it will never, ever forget.

Two unforgettable Stanford kicks helped OSU stage the first fourth-quarter comeback of its season, too, but these Cowboys will take it.

"The big man upstairs? He blessed us on that one," assistant recruiting coordinator Terrel Harris told the Cowboys, just before Gundy gave a preview on the podium of his signature dance move, the Gundy, as his team egged him on. "Y'all know, though, we're back on the grind again in a couple weeks."

Larger questions loom for Stanford

January, 3, 2012
Andrew LuckChris Morrison/US PresswireAndrew Luck's Stanford career ends in a disappointing overtime loss to Oklahoma State.
This one is going to sting for a long, long time. There is no 24-hour rule here, no chance to put this one behind you and focus on the next opponent. All there is is time to think, stew, marinate in a myriad of how-did-it-all-go-wrongs.

There are two ways the Stanford Cardinal can move on from a 41-38 overtime loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. They can slide back into Pac-12 mediocrity now that quarterback Andrew Luck and an amazing cast of seniors are leaving. Or they can learn from this loss and come back with a chip on their Luck-less, shoulder.

“We’re going to be back,” said a choked up defensive end Ben Gardner. “We’re going to be just fine. We’re going to be back next year with a vengeance and we’re going to be a strong program for years to come.”

That’s what the big boys do -- the established programs that season after season are in the top-10 conversation. They learn to take the sweet with the sour. And this group hasn’t had to swallow much sour over the past few years. A loss like this can numb the taste buds or accelerate the desire to get back to the sweet.

“If you dwell on the loss, you never get better,” said nose tackle Terrence Stephens. “If you keep dwelling on what went wrong, you’ll never be able to focus on what to do right.”

There will be questions. In the immediate future, most of them will swirl around a redshirt freshman kicker. Jordan Williamson missed three field goals, including a 35-yarder as time expired that would have given the Cardinal their second straight BCS bowl victory. He also missed a 41-yard field goal on Stanford’s opening possession and a 43-yard kick in overtime. Williamson did not address the media after the game.

There will be questions that head coach David Shaw played it too conservative on the final drive in regulation that set up Williamson’s miss – a straight shot up the middle that hooked left. Maybe. It’s worth noting, however, that Williamson was 6-of-7 this season on kicks between 30 and 39 yards.

But bigger questions loom after the missed-kicks fallout settles. Like finding Luck’s replacement; like filling holes on the offensive line for the NFL-bound Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro; like replacing veteran safeties Michael Thomas and Delano Howell; whether outside linebacker Chase Thomas leaves school or returns for another season.

Whatever the answers, Stephens believes the Cardinal will be just fine.

“That’s the best part of our program,” Stephens said. “We hold the word resilient very high. You have to be resilient in everything you do. You come back and you fight and you get better. That’s been the attitude since I got here and it will be the attitude far after I leave. I think that’s something the players instill in the other players.”

There’s no doubt that the departing players leave the program in much better shape than when they came in -- several of whom committed following (even during) Stanford’s 1-11 season.

Luck thinks the future of the program is in good hands.

“I think just keep getting better, put your head down and keep working,” he said. “A lot has been written about the seniors and the senior class and regardless of which guys stay and which guys leave, there are really good football players here. Obviously, you want to improve every year. But I think a very solid foundation has been laid with coach Shaw at the helm. I see a very bright future for the program.”

Still, it’s tough to see that through the haze of missed field goals, missed opportunities, missed tackles and Justin Blackmon's jet wash. The Oklahoma State wide receiver torched the Cardinal for 186 yards and three touchdowns on eight catches.

“He took advantage of our mistakes and that’s something that any good player will do,” said Michael Thomas. “You can’t afford to make mistakes against that guy. One missed tackle and he takes it to the house. Missed communication in coverage and you leave the best player on the team wide open. Just guys not taking advantage of the opportunities they had, but give credit to him. He made the plays and he exposed us when we made mistakes.”

Lost in the mix will be an amazing performance by Luck -- who was 27-of-31 for 347 yards, two touchdowns and an interception -- and a fantastic performance by the rushing attack. Stepfan Taylor pounded out 186 yards on 35 carries and two touchdowns.

“There’s an old saying that adversity reveals character,” Shaw said. “… Two real good teams come down to a few plays, not just that one (the field goal at the end of regulation) but a few plays that we could have all done something a little bit better.

“I have a lot of confidence in the guys we have in our locker room as individuals, but also what we’re capable of together; get through this together and coming back, fighting back strong and hard.”

Shaw and his players are saying all of the right things. Now the ball is in their court for the next seven months to back it up.

Video: Stanford's A.J. Tarpley

January, 3, 2012
AM ET's Kevin Gemmell talks with Stanford linebacker A.J. Tarpley following the Cardinal's loss in the Fiesta Bowl.

Video: Stanford's Andrew Luck

January, 3, 2012

Andrew Luck talks after Stanford falls to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.

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.

3Q: Stanford 28, OSU 24

January, 2, 2012
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Momentum, she is a swinging.

The Cardinal stopped OSU on its first drive of the second half, then a 26-yard punt return from Drew Terrell gave the Cardinal solid field position at their own 41. They marched down to the OSU 15 where Andrew Luck connected with Zach Ertz on a 16-yard scoring strike.

Momentum swing.

After stopping OSU again, Quinn Sharp pinned the Cardinal at their own 3-yard line, and fullback Geoff Meinken fumbled at the Stanford 4, which OSU recovered.

Momentum swing.

But OSU failed to get in after three tries and opted for a 19-yard Sharp field goal.

Momentum swing?

Plus, Coby Fleener came out with a lower leg injury.

Momentum swing?

Maybe. Stay tuned...

Halftime: Stanford 21, OSU 21

January, 2, 2012
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Some first-half thoughts from the Fiesta Bowl.

Turning point: On fourth-and-4 at the Stanford 32, Brandon Weeden hit Justin Blackmon for 23 yards with less than a minute in the half, setting up first-and-goal. On third-and-goal at the 2, Weeden took it in himself to knot the score at 21-21. It was Weeden's first career rushing touchdown.

Stat of the half: After only 13 three-and-out drives all season, the Cardinal already have two in the first half.

Best player for Stanford: Linebacker Jarek Lancaster is having a fantastic game. He’s made several open-field tackles -- including two on critical third downs -- and been in on several others.

Best player for Oklahoma State: Blackmon became the first wide receiver to gain more than 100 yards on the Cardinal this season. Through the first 30 minutes, he has four catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns.

Best tackle of a teammate: Jeremy Stewart taking down Ty Montgomery on a kickoff that Montgomery thought about taking 5 yards deep out of the end zone. As Montgomery approached the line, Stewart brought him down. The form was questionable and it might have been helmet-to-helmet, but no flag was thrown.

Best fan-made sign in the stands: “Superman wears Andrew Luck socks.”

2Q: Stanford 14, OSU 14

January, 2, 2012
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- That's a little more like it. Both teams put together scoring drives that match their personalities.

The Cardinal went 87 yards on seven plays, using 4 minutes, 30 seconds of clock to cap the drive with a 24-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Stewart.

Oklahoma State answered with a four-play, 84-yard drive that took up just 1:11, ending with a 43-yard touchdown pass to Justin Blackmon.

The pair teamed up again on a 67-yard touchdown pass to tie the score.

Blackmon already has 110 receiving yards -- marking the first time this season the Cardinal has allowed a receiver to gain more than 100 yards.

About six minutes left in the quarter and OSU has regained the momentum after falling behind by two scores.

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.