Blackmon Stands Alone At The Top

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy had avoided the proclamation all season. He'd danced around the idea but never flat out said it until Monday night — Justin Blackmon is the best receiver in OSU football history.

Gundy said it but anyone watching already knew it as the junior put on athletic display in his final game in a Cowboy uniform. When the Cowboys needed big catches, he made them. On the biggest stage of his career he had his biggest game and that is what separates No. 81 from the pack.

The stats — eight catches for 186 yards and three touchdowns — don't even begin to paint an accurate picture of Blackmon's dominance in the desert. He was more physical, faster and better than anyone else on the field in Oklahoma State's 41-38 overtime thriller against Stanford.

Those physical attributes routinely separated him over the past two years, where he has amassed a ridiculous stat line of 232 catches for 3,304 yards and 40 touchdowns, but he added an element that against Stanford that made him more dangerous than he had ever been before — anger.

Blackmon was seen yelling at his teammates before the second quarter after having been targeted just once in the opening quarter, resulting in an interception.

And, as quarterback Brandon Weeden said after the game, you don't want to make Blackmon angry.

The Cowboys responded by getting the ball into his hands and, once it was there, No. 81 took care of the rest. His first two catches went for 110 yards and two touchdowns where he ran through, over and past anyone in his way. The No. 4 Cardinal had not allowed a 100-yard receiver this season, it took Black two touches.

"I wouldn't say I was mad.  Just irritated with what was going on," Blackmon said. "I knew we could play better.  I just tried to help the team play as best that they could.  If that takes me I think getting mad, I guess I get mad and go out there and do it."

He might have shied away from the anger theme but his play on the field proved it.

"He was as good as advertised — and then some," Stanford coach David Shaw said.

Blackmon's third and final score came on a 17-yard post up the middle to draw the game to a tie at 31 with 11:53 remaining in regulation, but still none of these register as his biggest catch of the night.

That came just under four minutes to play with the Cowboys facing 4th-and-3 from their own 40-yard line. Everyone in the stadium knew who Weeden would be looking for. Stanford lined up over Blackmon with man-on-man coverage to attempt to deny the inevitable. But just as Blackmon has done time and time again the past two season, he snagged the pass on a slant route and turned it upfield for a 21-yard gain. OSU scored the game-tying touchdown three plays later that would ultimately send the game to overtime.

 "To make big catches in crucial situations then make plays with the ball in his hands when the other team knows he is going to do it, it is pretty amazing, especially when the teams roll up on him like tonight," Gundy said. "Stanford's game plan, other than blitz, was to roll up and play a guy down on him.  He still finds a way to get open and get the ball and the quarterback finds a way to get it to him."

And there was no more important example of that than on that 4th-and-3 play. Blackmon kept OSU's Fiesta Bowl dream alive. He delivered in ways nobody has before him.

"He takes pride in his one-on-one matchups," Weeden said. "He likes catching the ball with his hands.  He is not a guy that lets it come to him.  If I know it is one-on-one, there is nobody really I throw it to other than Blackmon ... In that situation, I'm going to Blackmon 100 percent of the time."

And that fourth-down reception will go down as the final connection ever between the dynamic tandem of Blackmon and Weeden and the result, as well as, the final score serves as a fitting end to a two-year reign of terror on opposing defenses.

And Blackmon said he couldn't have imagined a better way to wrap it all up but his personal stats and offensive MVP honors were just icing on the cake.

"Not at all.  Like I said, the win itself, you get the win with our teammates and all the seniors on the team was enough.  I could have had no catches and no touchdowns, as long as we won, I would have been excited," he said. "So it is really big to get this win for Oklahoma State and Stillwater and I'm just glad we get to bring that trophy back to Oklahoma.

Blackmon has always been a team-first player and has deflected any personal accomplishments to his fellow Cowboys but as he walked off the field in Glendale, Ariz., on Dec. 2, 2012, he left no doubt that in a group that includes Hart Lee Dykes, Rashaun Woods and Dez Bryant, he stands alone at the top of the list. And Gundy couldn't disgree.

"I resisted in saying he was the best wide receiver that has ever played at Oklahoma State," Gundy said. "He is, bar none."

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