The Fiesta Bowl Experience

Wow... that gut punch took some time to process...

The wound is still a bit raw, but I think I can start talking about what I saw from my perch in the stadium on Monday night. How do you capture an experience like that in words? I'll give it a shot...

Only a few times in my life have I ever been present when a player had a transcendental game. I'm pretty sure that's what I saw out of Andrew Luck last night. Our seats were up in the third deck, and from that vantage point we could see all of the passing plays as they developed. I saw Ty Montgomery break open in the first quarter and held my breath as Andrew let a pass fly... and then it hit him in stride. I could see how the OSU defense was lined up, see where the holes would be for the running game, and then a running back would hit those exact holes. I could see the perfect touch on the toss to Whalen for a huge third down conversion. With every pass Luck was getting more confident. With every play it became clearer and clearer that he would find a way to get the job done. When we got the ball back with two and a half minutes to go, there was no doubt in my mind that Luck would lead the team to a score... my only concern was that he would do it so fast that OSU would have a chance to come back and tie it up. Given that, I was happy (at the time) with the decision to play for the field goal... sigh...

Another time I saw a similarly transcendent game in person happened to be a few years ago in Big Game when Toby Gerhart put the team on his shoulders and willed them to victory... except that his coach took the ball out of his hands at a crucial moment, and then the game was over. That call potentially cost Gerhart the Heisman, too. I think sometimes coaches outthink themselves - occasionally the simplest answer is the correct one.

There was much about the experience that I'll remember though, both good and bad:

  • The band's pregame show was clever. They found a way to poke fun at Oklahoma while keeping it light and fun. OSU's band was ... well, I believe everyone around me vowed to disown their future children if they ever joined a band like that.
  • Speaking of bands, I'd always noticed that in the Pac-10/12 the bands do not play anything while the opposing team's offense is getting ready for the snap. That always seemed like a nice gesture of sportsmanship to me. Maybe it is not common to do that in other conferences (I haven't watched enough other games to notice) but I thought it was pretty classless of the OSU band to constantly play while Stanford was on offense. Or maybe in the Pac-12 we're just too damned nice...
  • I absolutely loved that this game was a bit of a coming out party for Ty Montgomery. That guy looks like he could be a beast in the coming years.
  • Similarly, Stepfan Taylor was unreal. His second and third efforts consistently picked up huge yards. With three returning offensive linemen and Taylor in the backfield, our next QB will have a nice support system built in around him.
  • Hey Barry Sanders Jr. - one team in this game rushed for 243 yards on 50 attempts. The other team rushed for 13 yards on 15 attempts. You're a running back... this seems like a no-brainer to me.
  • Wayne Lyons came back just for this game?!? Here's hoping he has a big sophomore year.
  • Maybe it was just in the upper deck but good god was the PA system loud. Like "I can't hear myself think loud." Louder than the crowd at full blast loud. And I know it is a bowl game, and the Fiesta Bowl really needed to remind everyone that they actually do some charity work, but it would've been perfectly acceptable for them to allow at least one or two stoppages of play to pass without trotting someone onto the field and/or showing a commercial on the jumbotron. The game had more than enough atmosphere on its own without your help.
  • The Stanford supporters were impressive. They were loud. Despite being outnumbered two to one they held their own and showed an energy level beyond anything I could've imagined.
The final score aside, the game was a great experience and I'm glad I made the trip. It was worth it just to watch the clinic that the offense put on - and to see this team stand up toe-to-toe against a team of OSU's caliber. We may never see another player of Andrew Luck's caliber in a Stanford uniform, but I think the program is in good shape, and it should be exciting to see the next generation continue what he and his classmates started.

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