Here's a look back at the best and worst moments from Stanford's 41-38 overtime loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Best Goodbye: Andrew Luck arguably saved his best performance for last, completing 27-of-31 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns. After throwing an early interception, Luck was almost perfect. He was 5-for-5 on Stanford’s final drive in regulation.
Worst Night: Jordan Williamson had a nightmare of a game that he can’t forget soon enough – and maybe never will. The freshman missed three of four field goals, including a 35-yard attempt at the end of regulation that would have won the game, and a 42-yarder in overtime. Williamson made 13-of-19 field goal attempts this season, but only 2-of-7 since returning from an injury he suffered before the USC game. Keep your head up, Jordan. Next time you'll be the hero.
Best Surprise Performance: After rushing for a career-high 99 yards in last year's Orange Bowl, many figured that Jeremy Stewart's Stanford career was over. But the fifth-year senior returned and made his mark in a crowded backfield as the Cardinal’s go-to short yardage option. He was so much more in the Fiesta Bowl. Stewart rushed 3 times for 65 yards and caught a 25-yard pass from Luck on Stanford’s final drive in regulation that put the Cardinal in field goal range.
Worst Conservatism: This debate may never be resolved.
Best Preposterous Prediction: Stepfan Taylor had a preposterously good game, carrying 35 times for a career-high 177 yards. Running behind a dominant offensive line led by David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin, Taylor was phenomenal. With a new quarterback prepared to take the reins next season, Taylor could be asked to do even more. He's up to the challenge.
Worst Preposterous Prediction: Early on, limiting Justin Blackmon to 75 or fewer yards receiving seemed possible. Brandon Weeden didn’t even target the two-time Biletnikoff Award winner in the first quarter, but that changed in a hurry. Blackmon had touchdown catches of 67 and 43 yards in the second quarter and finished with 8 catches for 186 yards and 3 touchdowns. I’m not sure why Weeden bothered to look anywhere else.
Best Interception: Terrence Brown picked a good time for his first career INT, stepping in front of Weeden's first attempt for the pick.
Worst Coverage: The middle was WIDE OPEN for the Cowboys for most of the night and Weeden exploited it at will. The 28-year-old finished 29-of-42 for 399 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Best Freshman: Ty Montgomery had 7 catches for 120 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown on play-action in the first quarter. It was the first 100-yard game of Montgomery's career. It won't be the last.
Best Defensive Stand: After Geoff Meinken fumbled inside the 5-yard line with Stanford leading 28-21 in the third quarter, the Cardinal defense came up with an impressive stand. Stanford stopped Joseph Randle short of the goal line on two consecutive runs. On third down, Weeden rolled right and threw incomplete to a wide open Kye Staley in the end zone. The Cowboys settled for a field goal to cut the Cardinal lead to 28-24.
Best Drive: After Oklahoma State tied the game at 31 with 11:53 to play, Stanford put together the type of drive that has defined the Andrew Luck era. The key numbers: 13 plays, 69 yards, 7:21 off the clock, and 7 points on the scoreboard. Here's what I wrote in the game preview: The defense will make just enough plays and Luck will lead the Cardinal on a classic, 7-minute scoring drive in the fourth quarter, with a healthy dose of Stepfan Taylor and Tree's Company. Close, but the defense came up one play short...
Worst Stop: The defense, which limited Randle to 23 yards on 10 carries and played well for most of the night, couldn't come up with the stop necessary to seal the win. The Cowboys faced 4th and 3 on their game-tying drive before Weeden found Blackmon for a 21-yard gain. Randle scored on a 4-yard run three plays later.
Worst Sense of Humor: This was one Oklahoma State fan’s assessment of the LSJUMB after the game: "YOUR BAND SUCKS!" Thanks.
Best Band: LSJUMB, obviously.
Best Tackle of a Teammate: When Montgomery attempted to bring a kickoff out of the end zone from at least 5 yards deep, he was met at the goal line by Stewart, who knocked the freshman receiver flat on his butt for a touchback. The heads up play likely saved the Cardinal from awful field position, but could've been a disaster. Had Montgomery come out of the end zone before being knocked back, it would’ve been a safety, as Green Bay Packers return man Patrick Lee could tell you.
Worst Penalties: Stanford was penalized 6 times for 35 yards, while OSU was flagged once for five yards. Two of the Cardinal's penalties were especially costly. With Stanford leading 28-24, Griff Whalen was called for holding on a 3rd and 16 pass play to Montgomery that went for a first down. In overtime, Levine Toilolo was whistled for a false start after Taylor rushed for 5 yards on first down.
Best Pass: The play-action strike to Montgomery was beautiful, but Luck's 20-yard pass to Whalen on 3rd and 14 late in the fourth quarter was what makes him so special. Luck rolled right, looked off at least two other options before finding Whalen, directing him to a spot, and throwing a perfect pass along the right sidline. Stanford scored on the drive to take a 38-31 lead. Whalen finished with 7 catches for 85 yards.
Best Tackle of an Opponent: It didn't matter in the end -- except to some unlucky gamblers -- but Delano Howell chased down Colton Chelf at the half-yard line in overtime to keep Stanford's slim hopes alive.
Best Moment: I didn’t stick around to watch the postgame ceremony, but I got a little choked up watching this video of Mike Gundy hand the Fiesta Bowl trophy to Shelley Budke, the wife of former OSU women's basketball coach Kurt Budke, who died in a plane crash along with assistant coach Miranda Serna earlier this season.
Worst Formation: The Wildcat was completely ineffective against the Cowboys. Tyler Gaffney, who took two direct snaps in the formation, finished with four carries for four yards.
Best Fan Support: Stanford fans may have been outnumbered in Glendale, but they were loud and proud.
Best Postgame Meal: In-n-Out near the stadium. Neapolitan shakes taste better after wins, but they're pretty good after losses, too.
Worst Wait: It’ll be 8 months before Stanford can return to the win column and start to erase this bitter feeling.
Best Season: The loss was heartbreaking, but it doesn't overshadow another amazing season. Hats off to David Shaw, his staff, and all the players. The future remains bright for Stanford football.