Fiesta Bowl Preview: Stanford, Oklahoma State are More than Their Quarterbacks

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

What it is: A bowl that was included in the BCS for reasons that aren't entirely clear

The Sponsor: Talking tortilla chips

The Teams: Stanford and Oklahoma State

How Stanford got here: Andrew Luck and Stepfan Taylor. You might have heard of Luck and his chances to win some trophy that's given out in New York City every year, but you might not have heard quite as much about Taylor. The Stanford running back had 1,153 yards and eight touchdowns to balance out Luck's aerial attack. You might not be aware that the Cardinal running game is actually more highly ranked than the passing offense -- but it is. Stanford's rushing defense is pretty highly rated, but that's not entirely a surprise when you look at the margin in some of their games. The passing efficiency defense is only average despite the fact that some teams were probably slinging the ball around, and efficiency is supposed to correct for things like that by awarding completion percentage and dinging interceptions. But the total defense is the best in the Pac-12, and only four teams have scored more than 21 points. However, Stanford's 23-point loss to Oregon was enough to keep them out of the national championship discussion and out of the Pac-12 Championship Game.

How Oklahoma State got here: Lots and lots of offense. The Cowboys churned out 557 yards a game while never scoring fewer than 31 points -- and scoring 44 or more eight times. Their loss, of course, was the triple-overtime upset at Iowa State, the same game that gave Alabama its shot at a rematch against LSU in the national championship game. You'll also hear a lot about how bad Oklahoma State's offense is, but that's largely a function of how often and how quickly the Cowboys score and give the ball to the other team; on a per-play basis, the Pokes are basically average. And they are very, very good at passing efficiency defense, with the eighth-best defense in the nation and tops in the Big 12, where you might have heard a little bit about the quarterbacks and the passing games they play. Like the Cardinal, they also have a decent running back that's been overshadowed by the passing duo of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon; Joseph Randle has 1,193 yards and 23 touchdowns this year. Oklahoma State would have been a challenge even for an LSU or Alabama if they had made it to the national championship game -- now they're Stanford's problem instead.

College football fans care because: ANDREW LUCK IS THE GREATEST QUARTERBACK THAT HAS EVER PLAYED COLLEGE FOOTBALL. I know because I saw that on ESPN.

SEC fans care because: It's kind of fun to consider what might have been.

Watch this game if...: You're a Colts fan.

The result: Oklahoma State 38, Stanford 13

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