The third quarter was more of the same: back and forth, with neither team able to take charge of the game. Both defenses had flashes of brilliance, ensuring the game remains tight heading into the final quarter. It may very well be that the team that has the ball last will win the game. That would seem to favor the Cardinal; Stanford has been able to establish its running game and could milk the clock if it wants, but Oklahoma State remains heavily reliant on Brandon Weeden, airing it out for its offensive production.
Play of the quarter: Geoff Meinken handed the Cowboys easy points late in the quarter, when he lost a fumble at Stanford's four yard line, setting up a potential four-yard touchdown drive for the Cowboys. Instead, Stanford's defense stiffened, stuffing Joseph Randle twice before Weeden threw incomplete on third down. Oklahoma State was forced kick a field goal, providing a big boost to the defense.
Defense stonewalls Weeden: Whatever adjustments the Cardinal made in the locker room appear to have worked really, really well. The Cowboys were held to a grand total of 15 yards in the quarter, and the defense forced two punts and a field goal after that great goal line stand. Blackmon was limited once again, catching no balls the whole quarter. The Cowboys' best running back, Joseph Randle, has made no headway against the Stanford front seven, either, gaining only 19 yards on nine carries for the game.
Stanford offense stays balanced: In sharp contrast to Oklahoma State, which seems to have forgotten that they have a running back, Stanford is running a highly balanced attack, mixing runs with short and medium-distance throws. It helps that Luck has been highly accurate: at one point, he had completed 11 straight throws. The offensive line's early struggles to get leverage against the Oklahoma State front seven appear to have largely evaporated, and Stanford is now winning the battle along the line of scrimmage.
Fourth quarter prediction: Stanford's strategy in the second half has been to pound the defense and wear it out, moving the ball down the field with consistent gains. With Stanford on the brink of another score, they will likely go back to that strategy if the defense can get another stop.
End of fourth quarter: Stanford 38, Oklahoma State 38
The Fiesta Bowl went down to the wire in a wild fourth quarter. Though Stanford entered the quarter with a 28-24 lead, the Cowboys' defense managed to hold Stanford to a field goal before their offense went down the field and scored to tie the game at 31 apiece. The last five minutes saw some of the most tense football of the season, with each team scoring a touchdown to push the score to 38-38. Unfortunately for Stanford, Jordan Williamson shanked a would-be game-winning field goal wide left, sending this game into overtime.
Play of the quarter: It's hard to point to any play other than Jordan Williamson's missed field goal attempt to win the game. The ball was perfectly centered at the 17 yard line, but Williamson was unable to hit, sending us to overtime.
Cardinal leans heavily on Taylor: Though Luck will likely be the one in the headlines, Stepfan Taylor was easily just as important to Stanford. The back was an absolute workhorse, consistently pounding into Oklahoma State's front seven for one tough gain after another. Overall, Taylor finished regulation with 33 carries for 175 yards.
Final score: Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 38.
Stanford starts the first overtime with the ball. Jordan Williamson misses a 43-yard field goal wide left. Any points for Oklahoma State will give them the game.
After having a would-be touchdown overturned on review, Oklahoma State kicks a short field goal, functionally an extra point, to win this one. Definitely a heartbreaking loss for the Cardinal and one that's going to stay with the team for a while.
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