No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 4 Stanford
Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
At Glendale, Ariz.
Both teams are haunted by what might have been, losing once during the regular season, therefore missing out on a chance at the BCS title.
But the setbacks set up a marquee BCS matchup between Oklahoma State (11-1) and Stanford (11-1), perhaps the one that will be most pleasing to the viewing audience. It’ll certainly be lightyears better than last year’s sleepy pairing of Oklahoma and Connecticut.
The quarterback duel between Cowboy Brandon Weeden and Cardinal Andrew Luck will be something to savor. Luck will have to be at his play-changing best while facing an Oklahoma State defense that deserves much more credit than it gets.
It’s hard to bet against somebody like Luck, who led an impressive 40-12 victory over Virginia Tech in last season’s Orange Bowl and threw 26 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the red zone this year.
But we’ve got to go with somebody and we’ll side with the 28-year-old Weeden, who unlike Luck has a member of his supporting cast that can expertly stretch the field. Cowboy wideout Justin Blackmon is one of the best around and can take advantage of a Cardinal secondary that’s the weak link of a defensive unit that features a formidable front seven.
In addition, we favor OSU running back Joseph Randle over Stanford’s thundering tailback committee led by Stefan Taylor, who rushed for 1,153 yards behind the Cardinal’s rugged offensive line in double and triple-tight end sets.
Oklahoma State’s lone loss (at Iowa State) is much more lamentable than Stanford’s (vs. Oregon), so there is a possibility of a woe-is-me letdown, but the fact that this is their first BCS appearance wipes those fears away. Mike Gundy will have his ‘Boys ready.
Opening point spread: Oklahoma State by 3
The pick: Oklahoma State 37-31
Click HERE to get predictions for the remaining bowl games.