Just so we’re clear on where I stand: Oklahoma State got screwed.
The Cowboys, the champions of the Big 12, were left out of the BCS National Championship Game as voters elected to go with a rematch between LSU and Alabama in the title clash. Oklahoma State was passed over despite the fact that Alabama didn’t win its own division in the SEC, much less a conference title, and the fact that Oklahoma State has performed better against a more difficult schedule this season.
Instead, No. 3 Oklahoma State will take on No. 4 Stanford in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl. The game kicks off at 8 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 2 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
How Oklahoma State approaches this game mentally will be a key to this game. If the Cowboys are still focusing on how they were shafted for a chance at a BCS championship then Stanford could have its way with them. But if the Cowboys are focused and angry, looking to show the college football world that they truly are the best team in the country, then we could see an inspired effort from the Cowboys.
The last time out the Cowboys played their best game of the season, dominating hated rival and former No. 1 Oklahoma, 44-10, in the Bedlam Game. There is also a chance that the Cowboys could have a letdown after winning that game in such an overwhelming fashion.
Stanford is no pushover and played this entire season as a true BCS title contender. They finished the regular season 11-1 with their lone loss coming against Oregon. Ironically, that loss kept the Cardinal out of the Pac-12 Championship Game. And the fact that they didn’t win their division or conference championship may be the only thing that has kept them out of the BCS Championship Game.
Oklahoma State’s lone loss this season came in overtime at Iowa State. That loss occurred in a Friday night game at Ames on the same day that two Oklahoma basketball coaches were killed in a plane crash.
This game features several Heisman Trophy candidates and several players that will be first-round picks in this April’s NFL draft. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is all but assured to be the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft while Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon should definitely be a top-10 pick.
Not surprisingly, this game features two of the most dynamic offenses in college football. These teams combine to average 92.9 points per game with Oklahoma State notching 49.3 points per outing and Stanford posting 43.6 points per.
A key component in this game will be turnovers. Oklahoma State has forced 42 turnovers this season—the most in college football—and that is a huge part of their game plan. But Stanford has only turned it over 15 times on the season, which is the eight-lowest total in the sport. Luck has thrown only nine interceptions this year and has just 21 INTs in his college career (686 passing attempts).
2012 Fiesta Bowl College Football Odds
Oklahoma State opened as a three-point favorite, according to college football odds, but that line quickly moved to 3.5. The spread has held since then. The Cowboys are taking the majority of the action (61 percent) but not by an overly large amount.
The total on this game has actually come down from its early release of 76.0. It is now 74.0 with nearly balanced action on the over and the under.
2012 Fiesta Bowl Betting Trends
Cardinal are 7-0 ATS in their last seven non-conference games.
Cardinal are 6-2 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
Cardinal are 20-8-1 ATS in their last 29 games on grass.
Cardinal are 34-16-1 ATS in their last 51 games following a S.U. win.
Cardinal are 34-16-1 ATS in their last 51 games overall.
Cowboys are 5-1 ATS in their last six non-conference games.
Cowboys are 5-1 ATS in their last six vs. Pac-12.
Cowboys are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games following a S.U. win.
Cowboys are 7-2 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
Cowboys are 19-7 ATS in their last 26 games overall.
2012 Fiesta Bowl Predictions
I know that it is very square to call for a high-scoring game, but I think that’s exactly what we’ll see. Stanford is going to get its points because Luck is just that good and I don’t see any way that the Cardinal defense is going to handle the speed of the Oklahoma State attack.
Sure, part of the game plan for Stanford could be slow the tempo down and try to control the ball and the time of possession. But OSU scores quickly. And if the Cowboys get a lead, that could force Stanford’s plan out the window.
2011 Fiesta Bowl Free Pick: Take Over 74.0 Stanford vs. Oklahoma State
Robert Ferringo is an NFL and college football handicapper and you can check him out here.