Well that was fun.
What a way to cap an extended holiday vacation — with a day full of college football. Monday featured two big matches for the Pac-12 in the Rose and Fiesta Bowl. Oregon looked to prove it is a legitimate dynasty with its first BCS win since beating Colorado in 2002.
And before we go any further, let’s just savor the glory that is Ducks running back De’Anthony Thomas.
Simply incredible speed.
On the other hand, the Fiesta Bowl felt like two teams, Oklahoma State and Stanford, trying to prove they should have been invited to New Orleans for the National Championship.
Neither did, in my opinion.
Stanford appeared to be the better team, but proved it lacked a killer instinct. Tied at 38 with 2:35 left in the fourth and all three timeouts remaining, the Cardinal took just over a minute to move down to OSU’s 25. Then OSU actually called a time out with 0:52 seconds remaining. That was when you had to start questioning Stanford.
Instead of putting the game in consensus first round NFL draft pick Andrew Luck, who had been sharp all game long, Stanford coach David Shaw ran two run plays and put the game in the hands of freshman kicker Jordan Williamson after running the clock down to 0:03.
Williamson, who had missed a field goal earlier in the game, sailed the 35 yard kick wide left.
The game went to over time where an impotent Stanford drive followed by another missed field goal let OSU win with a field goal from the one.
Instead of proving Stanford should have been a national title contender, the match showed that perhaps David Shaw isn’t the one to lead the Cardinal to the promised land. In this situation, I find it helpful to ask, “What would Jim Harbaugh do?”
I don’t think Harbaugh would have decided to settle for a field goal with almost a minute left, three timeouts and only 25 yards to go. Harbaugh had the killer instinct; it seems like Shaw is content to set Stanford on auto pilot with Luck at the helm.
Back to Oregon’s match with Wisconsin; what a match!
Oregon a Wisconsin were polar opposites stylistically, but about as closely matched as two teams could come. And like all good games, it seemed like the outcome of the 98th Rose Bowl could hinge on any single play. And, in a match featuring two ballyhooed offenses, defense proved key down the stretch as Oregon held Wisconsin scoreless in the fourth thanks to a timely turnover and stout run defense.
Oregon’s defense has always had a reputation of being ball hawks, but stout run defense? Not so much.
Over the final quarter, Oregon too away the run by holding Heisman finalist running back Montee Ball to zero yards on three attempts, something the Ducks had not been able to do all game.
Pretty impressive for a team that some had criticized for a lack of physicality earlier in the season.