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Fiesta Bowl Stats: Stanford vs. Oklahoma State

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With the Fiesta Bowl less than a week away, I suppose it's about time to start previewing the matchup. To start, here are 10 stats that could shed some light on what to expect when Stanford and Oklahoma State take the field on Monday. All of these numbers were taken with love from the indispensable cfbstats.com.

1. RED ZONE TD%

Stanford: 78.13% (3rd)
Oklahoma State: 64.94% (36th)

Analysis: Oklahoma State leads the country in red zone trips (77) and scores (68), but the Cardinal has been more efficient inside the 20, particularly with respect to finding the end zone. Stanford scored on 63 of its 64 red zone trips -- best in the country -- and scored as many red zone touchdowns (50) as Oklahoma State in 13 fewer trips. Red zone struggles hurt the Cowboys in their 37-31 loss at Iowa State. OSU, which led the country in red zone scoring percentage last season, scored one touchdown on three trips inside the 20 against the Cyclones. In its only loss, Stanford scored four touchdowns and one field goal on five trips inside the red zone against Oregon.

2. SACKS

Stanford: 38.0 (T-6th)
Oklahoma State:
28.0 (T-29th)

Analysis: Stanford registered at least five sacks in four games, including the regular season finale against Notre Dame. Oklahoma State had two such performances. The Cardinal allowed only 9 sacks this year, while Oklahoma State allowed 11. Both teams played two games against teams that rank in the top 10 in fewest sacks allowed. Stanford totaled two sacks against USC and Oregon, while Oklahoma State totaled five sacks against Texas A&M and Oklahoma. In fact, three of the 9 sacks that Oklahoma allowed this season came against OSU in Bedlam.

3. YARDS PER PLAY

Stanford: 6.76 (T-7th)
Oklahoma State: 7.19 (3rd)

Analysis: Oklahoma State is one of five teams that averaged more than 7 yards per play during the regular season. The other teams were Houston, Baylor, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Only Houston finished with more passing yards than the Cowboys. OSU ran 930 plays, which is seventh among teams who played 12 games. Stanford ran 854 plays.

4. RECORD ON GRASS

Stanford: 10-1
Oklahoma State: 1-1

Analysis: This comparison was brought to my attention by Rule of Tree member SacCardFan, who noted that the Fiesta Bowl will mark the Cowboys' third game of the season on natural grass. OSU's first game on grass was a 30-29 nailbiter against Texas A&M. The Cowboys' other game on grass was their only loss at Iowa State. Stanford was 10-1 on grass during the regular season, though the playing surface at Stanford Stadium toward the end of the year might be better classified as something else. This stat probably doesn't mean much -- see: Oregon 53, Stanford 30 -- but I thought it was interesting.

5. 3RD DOWN CONVERSION %

Stanford: 52.17 (4th)
Oklahoma State: 50.00 (8th)

Analysis: Both teams have been extremely effective on third down, which is no surprise given that they average around 7 yards per play. Stanford was a season-worst 5-for-14 on third down conversions against Oregon, while OSU was 6-for-14 against Iowa State. The Cowboys were a season-worst 2-for-12 on third down in their 38-26 win over Texas.

6. TOUCHDOWNS ALLOWED

Stanford: 32 (T-30th)
Oklahoma State: 39 (T-56th)

Analysis: The Fiesta Bowl should be a high-scoring affair, but don't expect MAC-tion-like point totals. Stanford allowed 20.3 points per game, while Oklahoma State allowed 25.8. The Cowboys saved their most dominant defensive performance of the regular season for last, holding Oklahoma to 10 points.

7. TURNOVERS GAINED

Stanford: 21 (T-57th)
Oklahoma State: 42 (1st)

Analysis: For the second straight year, Andrew Luck faces a ball-hawking, opportunistic defense in a BCS bowl. Luck shredded Virginia Tech, which led the nation in interceptions during the regular last year, in the Orange Bowl. On Monday, he'll take aim at an Oklahoma State defense that ranks second in interceptions (23) behind NC State. The Cowboys had as many interceptions in one game (4) as Stanford had in the first 11 games of the season.

8. TIME OF POSSESSION

Stanford: 33:07 (9th)
Oklahoma State: 26:58 (114th)

Analysis: Here's a stat for which Oklahoma State doesn't mind being ranked near the bottom. Stanford wears teams down with methodical, clock-sapping drives. The Cowboys often score in the blink of an eye. OSU has 13 plays of 50+ yards, which is two more than Oregon and seven more than Stanford.

9. TACKLES FOR LOSS ALLOWED

Stanford: 33 (1st)
Oklahoma State: 52 (T-9th)

Analysis: Remember David Shaw's Heisman pitch for Andrew Luck? One of his selling points was that the Cardinal led the nation in fewest plays for negative yards. The team with the second-fewest tackles for loss allowed was Penn State with 43. Oklahoma State has 84 tackles for loss this season, which ranks 30th.

10. FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE

Stanford: 80% (T-26th)
Oklahoma State: 87% (7th)

Analysis: With the score tied and with 1:17 left in regulation, Quinn Sharp pushed a 37-yarder wide right against Iowa State, but he was otherwise quite good this season. If the Stanford Kicker Curse carries over to 2012, he's destined to miss a couple on Monday.