The Cardinal gets ready to gear up for the Fiesta Bowl


By Rick Eymer

Palo Alto Online Sports

Andrew Luck and the Stanford football team may not be playing for the national championship this season, but they're not about to look at the Fiesta Bowl as some sort of consolation prize.

"Hopefully it will be a great game to cap off a great ride by all the seniors," Luck said after learning the fourth-ranked Cardinal (11-1) would be meeting third-ranked Oklahoma State (11-1) in the 41st running of the Fiesta Bowl on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012 at 5:30 p.m. "A BCS bowl game is obviously a goal for any college team. I'll approach it as a championship game."

The Cowboys had an argument for making the championship game over Alabama but in the end, a loss to Iowa State took preference over smearing Oklahoma all over the field like some used-up rag.

After losing to Oregon, the Cardinal never had a chance at reaching the title game. Stanford coach David Shaw wondered out loud how a team that lost to an unranked opponent could be ranked ahead of a team that lost to a top five opponent. That's why, in the coaches' poll, he ranked Stanford third and Oklahoma State fourth.

Several story lines are already emerging from the matchup. Luck and Cowboys' quarterback Brandon Weeden have both been in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy. Perhaps one of them will own it come game time.

"It's the nature of the bowl game and should be a great story line," Luck said. "I know him as a person and he's a great guy. I had a chance to hang out with him. He's a solid guy, great character and he obviously knows what he's doing."

Weeden said as much about the matchup.

"I think it's two totally different styles of offense," Weeden said. "They're more of the pro style and obviously he's a great quarterback and a great guy. That will probably be a story line, but it will be interesting. When I have watched them play, they play hard. Obviously they're the fourth-ranked team in the country so they're going to be pretty good."

Oklahoma State won its first conference title since 1948. Stanford is still looking for its first conference title since 1999.

The Cowboys seemed pretty disappointed they weren't going to the national championship game.

"It was bitter, but there's nothing we can do about it now," Oklahoma State defensive end Jamie Blatnick said. "We all would have loved to play in the national championship. I think that would have been the best matchup, but we can't. We just have to take our frustrations out on Stanford."

The Stanford traveling party departs for Arizona on Dec. 26.


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