Monday, January 2, 2012
Offensive party looms in Fiesta Bowl
No. 4 Stanford takes on No. 3 Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl tonight (8:30 ET on ESPN), in a game featuring several of college football’s biggest offensive stars.
Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck won both the Walter Camp and Maxwell Awards for National Player of the Year, and the Cowboys Justin Blackmon won his second straight Biletnikoff Award as the best receiver in college football.
Both players have been outstanding this season when close to the goal line. In the red zone, Luck has completed 73 percent of his passes and accounted for 28 touchdowns without turning the ball over.
Blackmon leads the country with 29 red-zone receptions, 10 more than any other player in FBS. He also leads the nation with 11 red-zone touchdown catches.
The Cowboys offense isn’t just Blackmon though. Running back Joseph Randle has run for 25 touchdowns this season. In Big 12 history, only Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein this season and Ricky Williams during his 1998 Heisman season have run for more.
Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden is one of six quarterbacks in FBS with 40 red-zone touchdown passes over the past two seasons and his +37 touchdown-to-interception differential in the red zone is tied for third in that span.
Luck is at the top of that list, with 45 touchdown passes and one interception in the red zone since the start of last season.
The biggest weapons in Luck’s arsenal are his tight ends, whom he targets on 40 percent of his pass attempts, most of any quarterback with 100 attempts. Stanford’s tight ends have scored two or more touchdowns in nine of the team’s 12 games, including each of their past two.
Luck has thrown a touchdown in every game this season out of two-tight end formations, and the two losses to Oregon were the only games in the past two years in which he completed less than 50 percent of his passes with two tight ends on the field.
Numbers to Know
The Cowboys lead FBS with 22 touchdown drives that have lasted one minute or less, and their average touchdown drive of 1:46 is the shortest in the country.
Entering last year, each of these programs had exactly three 10-win seasons in its history, and neither had ever won 11 games. Now both schools have back-to-back 11-win seasons.