Oklahoma State vs. Stanford: 5 Things We Learned from the Fiesta Bowl
The 2011-2012 college football season will be known as "The Year of the BCS," "The Year of the Rematch," and for this sports fan, "The Year of the Kicker."
I'm an Alabama Featured Columnist, so I'm familiar with games lost by kickers. Today's Fiesta Bowl was a hard hit for Stanford fans. Some of the things we learned from that game will give you a glimpse into how tough a loss it really was.
5: The SEC Officials Are Some of the Best in the League
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It's rare to watch a whole football game without at least one beef with an official's call or lack of a call somewhere in the process.
The SEC officials for the Fiesta Bowl didn't make a single bad call all night, and I couldn't even see a questionable one. I didn't see a missed call, either (although it's harder to see a missed call with limited camera angles, of course.)
As a whole, the officiating for this entire bowl season has been excellent, but this game is one of the very few that were this good. I'm not saying that they are absolutely the best in the league, as I'm an SEC fan and don't have as much experience in the non-conference games prior to this year.
They are, however, in the upper echelon of college football.
4: Weeden Is More Balanced Than His Stats Showed
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Weeden hit seven different players at least once, and he hit four receivers at least five times apiece in this game alone. At one point, Blackmon had two receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
Prior to this game, Blackmon had more than double—almost triple—the number of receptions of the No. 2 receiver on the team. That single-season stat will not change from this game, but the indication was that Blackmon was the bulk of the OSU offense.
Granted, if Weeden had hit Blackmon more often, he would likely have won the game in regulation. However, OSU defeated Stanford with a more balanced attack than I thought Weeden could produce.
A pleasant surprise to me, and I'm sure pleasant to OSU fans. OSU took home their first BCS bowl victory in their first BCS bowl appearance. They can claim a perfect BCS record for at least another year.
3: Blackmon Is a Beast, and He Will Be a Beast at the Next Level
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Granted, most of us already knew this before the Fiesta Bowl, but he put the exclamation point on an amazing season in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl.
He got frustrated early in the game, as he had zero receptions and OSU was down 14-0. His frustration was recognized by Weeden and the staff on the sidelines.
After that, he ripped off a 43-yard touchdown reception and a 67-yard TD reception in quick succession to tie the game at 14. The man had two receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He was heard from again before the game was over—with another TD.
Blackmon has the ability to make things happen that are rare in the world of football. If you haven't had a chance to see his appearance on ESPN Sports Science, I recommend it highly.
His presence will be missed at OSU. I wish him luck in his future in the NFL, and I will look for him there. (It probably won't happen, but I'd like to see him in Atlanta with Julio Jones.)
2: Stanford Staff Must Play Madden Video Games
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Lots of us grew up on the EA Sports video game franchise. I grew up when NFL GameDay and Madden NFL Football were fighting for the position as the top-rated video game around.
If there is one thing you learn from the early editions of the games (when collision detection was horrible and you could go through a guy's waist instead of tackling him), it's clock management.
Stanford did exactly that tonight. They were unable to completely stop OSU, so they operated on the concept that OSU was probably going to score. And score quickly.
With about 11 minutes left in the game, Stanford went on a clock-eating drive that left OSU with five minutes to tie the game. OSU scored quickly, and Stanford took over with plenty of time and about three minutes to go.
Had their freshman kicker made the 35-yard field goal, I would be writing a completely different next slide.
1: The BCS Got These Ranks Right, What About a Split Title?
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It took more than 60 minutes of football to determine which team was going to take home the victory. Stanford fans will be painfully reminded constantly about how many field goals they missed.
The BCS got this ranking correct, as the "automatic" Stanford kicking game was far from it. Stanford's kicker is a freshman and will likely take these feelings into his future and never let something like this happen again.
Oklahoma State had issues throughout the game and never led the game in regulation at all. However, they were never completely out of it either.
So that raises the question: If the BCS got Nos. 3 and 4 right, did they get No. 1 and No. 2 right?
The bigger question is this: Did OSU make enough of a statement to split the national championship at the end of the year—especially if Bama beats LSU?