The Basics: Tuesday, January 2, 2012, 8:30 PM EST on ESPN, from Glendale. Oklahoma State (11-1, 8-1 Big Integer) and Stanford (11-1, 8-1 PAC12).
Well, our Midwestern correspondent checks in with one side of the debate… yeah, he’s biased. Be sure to check out the counterpoint a bit later this evening.
Everyone knows about the stars, Luck, Weeden, Blackmon, but where I think this game will be won or lost is where most games are won and lost, along the lines and on defense. Oklahoma State has one of the best offensive line coaches in the nation in Joe Wickline. Last year he took 5 new starters and turned them into the best performing line in the Big 12, which is saying a lot with the other linemen in the conference. This season, he added 2 other linemen to this mix and again has a dominating line. This is why, in my opinion, OSU has one of the top offenses in the country. It’s not surprising that the only hiccup this year was when the line had their worst game. If the O-Line performs as it has for two seasons, I find it hard pressed that Stanford will be able to keep the Cowboys under 30.
This leads me to my next key of the game: The Defense. Much has been written about how bad (statistically) this side of the Cowboys team has been. However, look at it this way: They held 5 top 25 offenses below 30 points (3 of these games were on the road), and two potential top 10 draft picks (RG3 and Landry Jones) to 1 TD and 7 turnovers. Now many will say neither of these players is Andrew Luck. I’m sure they are not, but the Cowboys have fared just fine going up against top offenses all season. Some will also say holding an offense to under 30 shouldn’t be highlighted. Based on my first point, if Stanford doesn’t score 30, OSU wins, because I don’t believe Standford will hold the Cowboys under that number. Nobody has done that all season, and I don’t see the Stanford Cardinal doing it either.
Finally, I look at Stanford’s loss, Oregon. Not only did they lose, they lost BIG and at home. I watched this game from start to finish and what stood out was how slow Stanford looked, again AT HOME. Oklahoma State is very similar to Oregon…they spread you out, are crazy up-tempo, and then pass and run depending on how you line up. Also, like the ducks, they are VERY fast at the skill positions. I see more of the same happening to Stanford in this year’s version of the Party Bowl.
My prediction, Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 31. Oh, for kicks and giggles, Alabama beats LSU 4-3 with a safety as time expires. Now what do we have…3 one loss teams. And I say the Oklahoma State Cowboys are the AP National Champion! Hey, why not, because none of us buy into the BCS anyway.