What better way to close out a day of college football bowlin’ than with a Fiesta? The Fiesta bowl boasts another awesome matchup in a great day of college football games as 2 teams who finished just out of the national title chase meet in the desert as the Cowboys of Oklahoma State face off against the Stanford Cardinal.
Bowl Breakdown: Oklahoma State came almost tragically close to the National Championship, and finished #3 in the BCS behind LSU and Alabama. Stanford had title hopes of its own until Oregon rained on their undefeated season for the second year in a row. The Ducks were ranked #6 at the time, so it wasn’t a horrible loss but it was enough to keep the Cardinal out of the Championship game. Oklahoma State fans can commiserate since their team has one-loss and got shut out of the rematch as well. OSU lost in double OT to Iowa State on the road and even after crushing Oklahoma couldn’t get into the Championship game.
The Fiesta Bowl couldn’t get a better game to help people forget its recent scandal, and there will be story lines aplenty playing out on the field tomorrow. One of the biggest is the probable finale of Andrew Luck’s collegiate career. Luck would have probably been the #1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and there isn’t an expert out there who doesn’t have him as the #1 overall pick in the 2012 Draft. He still does have a year of eligibility but most expect him to declare and be the first name called on April 26th. His college numbers have been great and he projects to be off the charts in the NFL too. His main targets this year have been Sr. TE Coby Fleener (10 TDs) and Sr. WR Griff Whalen (49 catches). Luck’s 35 touchdown passes and the running of Stepfan Taylor (1,100 yds, 8 TDs) have put the Cardinals at #7 in the nation in points per game with 43.6 and 11th in total offense. Stanford’s defense has been solid this year as well, finishing 23rd in scoring defense and tied for 9th in sacks.
In this one, Stanford’s D will be trying to sack Cowboys Sr. QB Brandon Weeden who at 28 is considered an old man in college football (5 years of minor league baseball). Although his draft stock is nowhere near Luck’s, Weeden threw for over 4,300 yards and 35 TDs. Weeden’s numbers are greatly aided by throwing to receiver Justin Blackmon, the highest ranked WR in the draft after putting up 113 receptions for 1,336 yards and 15 touchdowns he caught a TD in every game of the season except the first game and the last game which were both blowouts. The highly effective passing game of OK St. makes their running game that much more potent. Their leading rusher Joseph Randle averaged 6 yards a carry on his way to 1193 yards and 23 TDs. With all these big TD numbers it’s no surprise that Oklahoma State ranked 3rd in yards per game and 2nd in points per game. The defense that gets the unenviable task of facing Luck played outstanding in their last game against the Sooners, but before that had struggled at times throughout the year. The headliners on the defense are the 2 All-American DBs Brodrick Brown and Markelle Martin, DE Jamie Blatnick who finished with 7 sacks, and OLB Alex Elkins who has an incredible story and had a huge strip sack in the finale against OU.
This game should be a high-scoring affair with plenty of playmakers all over the field. It’s another can’t miss bowl game to close out an incredible Monday of college football, and another very tough pick. I’m going with Oklahoma State since their one loss seemed a little more flukey to me than Stanford’s, their schedule was tougher in my opinion, and if their defense can play like it did in their last game they can give Luck a very hard time. I think Blackmon, Weeden, and Randle all go out with a flourish bringing OSU its first BCS win and finishing the best season for the school ever.
Pro Prospects: There are so many prospects in this one and so much great information on multiple NFL draft sites, I’m going to keep this brief. The 2 blogs I prefer for NFL info is NFLMocks here on Fansided and mockingthedraft.com. They’ve both just come out with 3 round mocks so for each prospect I’ll give you the round, pick, and team that each has the players going to. I’ll put NFLMocks first and then mockingthedraft’s… Andrew Luck-Stanford QB: 1, 1, Indianapolis Colts. 1, 1, Indianapolis Colts. Justin Blackmon-OSU-WR: 1, 4, Jacksonville Jaguars. 1, 6, Jacksonville Jaguars. Jonathan Martin-Stanford-OT: 1, 9, Miami Dolphins. 1, 12, Arizona Cardinals. David DeCastro-Stanford-OG: 1, 18, Cincinnati Bengals. 1, 17, Tennessee Titans. Markelle Martin-OSU-SS: 2, 25, Cincinnati Bengals. 2, 20, New England Patriots. Colby Fleener-Stanford-TE: 3, 8, Buffalo Bills. 3, 25, New York Giants. Levy Adcock-OSU-OL: 3, 26, Pittsburgh Steelers. 2, 10, Kansas City Chiefs. Chase Thomas-Stanford-LB: 3, 27, San Francisco 49ers… hopefully that give you an idea of the major prospects in this one and check out the 2 pages I mentioned for way more NFL Draft info.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our ongoing series for our Bowl Mania. You can find the same type of analysis for the Rose, Outback, Capital One, TicketCity, and Gator Bowls. Or check out the Full entry page to see how accurate each breakdown was for the games that have already taken place.