Did Oklahoma State prove itself worthy?
Oklahoma State won its Fiesta Bowl showdown with Stanford, but did the Cowboys answer the burning question of the game?
That question: Does Oklahoma State deserve a shot at LSU and the national title?
The answer is a bit murky. Yes, Oklahoma State beat Stanford, 41-38, on Monday night. But the Cowboys needed overtime to do it.
And most of all, they needed a huge break.
Redshirt freshman kicker Jordan Williamson blew a 35-yard field-goal try at the end of regulation that would have won the game for Stanford. He also missed a 43-yarder on the first possession of overtime, setting up Quinn Sharp’s 22-yard game-winner.
Other than kicking, Stanford was the more impressive team for most of the game. Stanford posted a 14-0 advantage early in the second quarter and forced Oklahoma State to chase the lead the rest of the way.
Stanford muscled up and played power football, running right at Oklahoma State. Then quarterback Andrew Luck hit passes with surgical precision.
Meanwhile, Stanford’s defense slowed down Oklahoma State just enough to keep the Cowboys from running away from them.
It was only late in the fourth quarter when Stanford’s defense really buckled. Oklahoma State’s no-huddle offense had the Cardinal gassed and confused as the Cowboys drove for the tying score.
Based on the evidence of this game, it’s hard to say confidently that Oklahoma State deserves to play LSU for the national title over Alabama. The defenses of LSU and Alabama would be able to handle Oklahoma State’s offense much better than Stanford did, while OSU’s defense would have its hands full with the overall speed of the SEC teams.
Could Oklahoma State beat Alabama or LSU? Probably not. But that’s not really the argument OSU coach Mike Gundy and the Cowboys were making.
Their point was they could deliver a much more entertaining game than the 9-6 overtime chess match LSU and Alabama played in early November.
Put Oklahoma State in the national championship game and there will be fireworks, one way or another. And who knows? As long as OSU has Brandon Weeden hurling bullets to Justin Blackmon, it’s got a puncher’s chance against anyone.
No, Oklahoma State did not prove emphatically that it deserves to play for the national title over Alabama. But the Cowboys did prove they can deliver a whale of a game against a quality opponent.
Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire