Cirminiello On The Fiesta - The Special Game
Posted Jan 2, 2012

Rich Cirminiello's thoughts on the special showdown in the Fiesta

Richard Cirminiello

Great players have a knack for making great plays when the stakes are the highest and the stage is the biggest.

All of the stars were out in Glendale, shining with a brightness that lit up the entire postseason. The Fiesta Bowl was every bit as good as advertised, exactly what fans pine for in a postseason matchup between two of the nation's premier programs.

The second of five BCS bowl games was epic because its marquee participants performed at their highest level. Andrew Luck was masterful, showing the country why he'll be the hands-down first player chosen in April's NFL Draft.

His counterpart, Brandon Weeden, carved up the Stanford defense with the precision of a surgeon, particularly on the game-tying drive late in regulation. Justin Blackmon was a man among boys all night, using his size, speed and physicality to toy with the Cardinal defensive backs.

At a time when this trio could have been tapping the brakes a little, with a lucrative contract just around the corner, they instead provided fans with an epic all-around performance.

Although the defenses took a backseat to the offenses in Glendale, this was still a bare-knuckle title fight. Both teams were gassed down the stretch, yet were unleashing haymakers right down to the final whistle. It was exactly the kind of game most expected when pairings were announced a month ago, the proverbial instant classic, and arguably one of the four or five best Fiesta Bowls of the past four decades.

In the end, the outcome came down to the right legs of two placekickers. Quinn Sharp connected. Jordan Williamson misfired. Oklahoma State won.

However, this was a duel that'll be remembered for how well the heavyweights performed, a final amateur virtuoso effort from Stanford's Luck and Oklahoma State's Weeden and Blackmon. Great showings by great players in one fantastic all-around football game.