Andrew Luck Proves 2012 NFL Draft Hype Is Legit, Despite Fiesta Bowl Loss

Wes ODonnellFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal reacts after he threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Zach Ertz #86 in the third quarter against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2012 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Andrew Luck didn't just defend or back up his status as the No. 1 prospect in the 2012 NFL draft.

To many, he proved it.

He didn't just do it with gaudy statistics either.

The Cardinal offense ran the football 50 times for 243 yards last night. Luck actually took away from that total with -3 rushing yards.

He threw two touchdowns and had one interception, yet he completed all but four passes and led an offense that tallied 590 total yards in 41:47 of possession.

Although Stanford ultimately lost the 2012 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in overtime to Oklahoma State, it was not because of Andrew Luck.

The loss falls on no one player in particular—it should never fall on an individual—but sophomore kicker Jordan Williamson was 1 of 4 on the night.

Stanford was in position to score at least nine more points.

That was all because of Andrew Luck.

He doesn't have insane stat lines like Case Keenum of Houston or even of his counterpart in the Fiesta Bowl, Brandon Weeden, but Luck dominates games with efficiency and play-making when opportunities arise.

Stanford hadn't had a winning season in any of the eight seasons before Luck lined up under center. In the last two seasons alone, he's led them to 23 victories.

There was never much reason to doubt Luck as the No. 1 prospect. However, considered to be the top of the class as long as he has been around, the only place he can go is down.

That isn't going to happen; he proved it last night.

Luck's Fiesta Bowl performance didn't earn him or Stanford a BCS Bowl win—that honor belongs to Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, who won it for his team. But Luck did prove to be every bit worth of the hype bestowed upon him for the past two seasons.

When late April rolls around, whether it be the Indianapolis Colts or a team they trade with, the first name to be called will undoubtedly be Andrew Luck.

It has been thought to be that way for two years.

And after his 2012 Fiesta Bowl performance, there is nothing that will change that.