Stanford Football: Quinn Sharp

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...

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

December, 4, 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-interception ratio in the red zone.

With a trio of top-flight tight ends -- headlined by Coby Fleener -- Luck has proved 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 had his second straight 1,000-yard season, and he did 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 TDs. 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 it credit. The Cowboys have an efficient defense that plays well when it counts, and ranks second nationally with a plus-20 turnover margin. Tough to beat that.

Quinn Sharp and Justin Gilbert make things interesting on 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.


Two Weeks Left And We Still Know Nothing
There are just two weeks left in the college football season, and Gene Wojciechowski says that we still don't know anything.


Friday, 11/28
Saturday, 11/29