The 2012 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl will be the 41st installment of this current BCS Bowl, and will feature the Stanford Cardinal of the Pacific-12 Conference against the Big XII Conference Champions, the Oklahoma State Cowboys. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools; it will be Oklahoma State’s second appearance in the Fiesta Bowl (their first came in a 16-6 win over BYU in 1974) while the Cardinal have never appeared in this Bowl Game. It could also be considered a “3rd Place Game” of sorts for the 2011-2012 college football season, as the Cardinal come in ranked #4 in the BCS while the Cowboys hold the #3 ranking.
The teams are fairly evenly matched in NCAA Football 12, though Stanford holds the slightest of edges in terms of team ratings. This—combined with the fact that I have been following the Cowboys all season in real-life as a new resident of Oklahoma—led me to suit up in the black and orange of the designated home team for the STAT BOX STORIES playthrough of the 2012 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
I won the coin toss to begin the game and decided to kick off to Stanford so that I could get the first possession of the second half. On the first Cardinal possession of the game, they put together a drive deep into Oklahoma State territory before a third down sack forced Stanford to settle for a 32-yard field goal attempt and a 3-0 lead. The Cowboys’ first possession of the game proved more successful, lasting just over a minute and a half and ending with a 44-yard touchdown run to put Oklahoma State up 7-3.
Stanford’s next possession also drove into Oklahoma State territory, though not as far. A 43-yard field goal attempt clanked off of the left upright but deflected through for three more points and 7-6 game in favor of the Cowboys. The next two possessions were three-and-outs; first the Cowboys punting back to Stanford, then the Cardinal forced to return possession to Oklahoma State. The Cowboys drove deep into Stanford territory with the ball back before being picked off on a 3rd-and-6 play, the ball caught by a Stanford defender in the end zone. With a swing in momentum, Stanford put together a lengthy drive but once more had to settle for a mid-range field goal—this one from 30 yards out—to take a 9-7 lead with 1:31 remaining in the first half.
With little time remaining in the half, Oklahoma State put together a quick drive and kicked a 51-yard field goal with 12 seconds remaining to re-take the lead at 10-9 going into the half. Considering the offensive résumés of the two schools, the combined 19 points—12 coming by way of field goals—was an unexpected beginning to the Bowl Game.
It didn’t take long in the third quarter for that offense to make an appearance, however. Oklahoma State’s first drive in the second half milked the clock and resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run with 4:04 remaining in the quarter. Stanford’s opening drive of the half ended with an interception thrown in Cardinal territory, setting the Cowboys up with prime field position. A 12-yard passing touchdown capped off the drive and gave the Cowboys a 24-10 lead with 2:29 remaining in the third.
Stanford’s next possession lasted three plays before a punt, and then a long pass to WR #81 of Oklahoma State set up a 13-yard touchdown pass to the same receiver to cap off a two-play scoring drive and give the Cowboys 21 points for the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, back-to-back sacks on Stanford’s possession led to a punt, and Oklahoma State kept pace putting points on the board. A long pass to WR #81 set up a 23 yard rushing touchdown and the Cowboys went ahead 38-9.
Stanford’s offense could not catch a break on their next possession as a pass was deflected by one cornerback to an Oklahoma State safety for another turnover and another Oklahoma State possession. A few plays later, a 53-yard pass to the end zone gave the Cowboys another touchdown and a 45-9 lead.
The Cardinal took bad penalties to stall their next possession and went three-and-out once more, punting the ball back to Oklahoma State. For the first time in the second half, however, the Cowboys ended a drive without points when a 53-yard field goal attempt hooked just wide with only seconds remaining in the game. It only took Stanford a single play to score their first touchdown—with only 2 seconds remaining in the game—by way of a 64-yard touchdown pass. Though it had no bearing on the game’s result, at the very least it gave Cardinal fans something to cheer about in a game they’d been shut out of the end zone for previously.
The final play of the game came as an onside kick by Stanford; of course—given their luck over the rest of the game—it was recovered by the Cowboys to end the game, 45-16.
In terms of team statistics, these two offensive powerhouses ended up running just about the same number of plays in the game; Stanford ran 49 offensive plays (33 runs, 16 passes) while Oklahoma State had 47 plays (33 runs, 14 passes). However, the Cowboys out-gained the Cardinal 474-308; a difference of 166 yards despite Stanford running more plays. Neither team had a great game in terms of 3rd Down Conversions; Stanford going 2-for-10, Oklahoma State going 3-for-7. Even possession was nearly even, as Stanford held the ball for only 17 seconds more than the Cowboys. In the end, it was the Cowboys ability to rattle off 35 unanswered points in the second half that made the difference.
Looking at individual statistics, QB #3 of Oklahoma State was the clear winner of the quarterback duel; though he only attempted 14 passes, he completed 9 for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Oklahoma State’s HB #1 earned Player of the Game honors with 206 yards on the ground as a complement to the Cowboys’ passing game, accounting for 3 touchdowns by himself. Cowboys WR #81 also hauled in three catches for 107 yards and a touchdown, serving as the third part of a three-headed offensive attack which led Oklahoma State to victory.
STAT BOX STORIES now has two BCS Bowl Games down for this week, with two more to come and—of course—the BCS National Championship Game coming up next Monday. Be sure to come back tomorrow for the STAT BOX STORIES playthrough of the 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl between the Michigan Wolverines and the Virginia Tech Hokies.