Fiesta Bowl Betting Preview: Stanford Cardinal vs Oklahoma St Cowboys

2012 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, Arizona
#4 Stanford Cardinal vs #3 Oklahoma St Cowboys
Monday, January 2, 2012, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Oklahoma St -3
Current Line: Oklahoma St -4
Opening Total: 76
Current Total: 74
Opening Money Line: OSU -165 / Stanford +145
Current Money Line: OSU -180 / Stanford +160

The OSU Cowboys are a 4 point favorite against the Stanford Cardinal in Monday's Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.

Though both Oklahoma St and Stanford would have preferred to be playing in the BCS Championship game next week in New Orleans, the Fiesta Bowl is a pretty good consolation prize. And who knows if Alabama wins an ugly game against LSU, they winner of this game could be in line for a share of the national title if they win convincingly. Stanford, out of the Pac 12 is 11-1 under first year coach David Shaw and ranked #4 in the BCS standings. The Cardinal will take on #3 Oklahoma St, out of the Big 12, who is also 11-1. The Cowboys are coached by Mike Gundy.

Stanford’s only loss was to Oregon at home 53-30 in Mid-November. The Cardinal started off 9-0 with wins over San Jose St, Duke, Arizona, UCLA, Colorado, Washington St, Washington, USC, and Oregon St. The Cardinal beat USC in LA in triple overtime 56-48, but every other game during that stretch was decided by 25 points or more. After the Oregon loss, Stanford finished up with 2 narrow home wins over arch-rival Cal 31-28 and Notre Dame 28-14. Stanford is 10-11-1 in bowl games all time. The Cardinal beat Virginia Tech 40-12 in the Orange Bowl last year, for the school’s first BCS level bowl since the 2000 Rose Bowl.

Oklahoma St only loss came at Iowa St late in the season 37-31 in overtime. The game was scheduled the same day a plane crash killed OSU’s women’s basketball and his top assistant. The loss kept the Cowboys out of the BCS championship game. The Cowboys have wins over Louisiana-Lafayette, Arizona, Tulsa,Texas A&M, Kansas, Texas, Missouri, Baylor, Kansas St, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma. The 44-10 thrashing of Oklahoma gave the Cowboys their first outright conference title since 1948 in the Missouri Valley Conference, and also clinched OSU’s first BCS bowl bid. The Cowboys are 13-8 all time in bowls. Oklahoma St is playing in a bowl for the 6th year in a row, and the 8th time in 9 years. The Pokes beat Arizona 36-10 in the Alamo Bowl last year. Oklahoma St and Stanford have never met on the football field before this game.

Stanford is averaging 482.8 yards  a game and 43.6 points a game. Stanford is in the top 8 nationally in both categories. The Cardinal average 274.2 passing yards and 207.9 rushing yards a game. Stanford has 15 turnovers and has allowed just 9 sacks. The Cardinal are 95/173 on third and fourth down conversions, and 63/64 scoring in the red zone with 50 touchdowns. Stanford is giving up 331.1 yards and 20.3 points a game. The Cardinal allow 241.1 passing yards, and 90 rushing yards a game. The rush defense is #5 in the country.  Stanford has forced 21 turnovers and 38 sacks this season. Cardinal opponents are 55/170 on third and fourth down conversions, and 26/35 scoring in the red zone with 21 touchdowns. Stanford has 4 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.

Quarterback Andrew Luck is projected to be the #1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, and was a Heisman finalist for the second year in a row. Luck is 261/373 passing (70% completions) for 3,170 yards, with 35 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, along with 43 carries for 153 yards and 2 touchdowns. Luck rushed for nearly 500 yards last season with 3 touchdowns, but the Cardinal coaches cut his carries way down as Stanford wants to protect their star quarterback now and for his future in the NFL. Running back Stepfan Taylor has 207 carries, 1,153 yards, and 8 touchdowns, along with 22 catches for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tyler Gaffney has 70 catches, 445 yards, and 7 touchdowns, along with 11 catches, 63 yards, and a touchdown. Anthony Wilkerson has 55 carries, 283 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Jeremy Stewart has 52 carries, 192 yards, and 8 touchdowns, along with 6 catches for 64 yards and 1 touchdown. Receiver Griff Whalen has 49 catches, 664 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Coby Fleener has 32 catches, 648 yards, and 10 touchdowns.  Chris Owusu has 35 catches, 376 yards, and 2 touchdowns. He is doubtful with a concussion. Zach Ertz has 23 catches, 308 yards, and 3 touchdowns. He is probable with a knee injury. Levine Toilolo has 6 touchdown catches and Ryan Hewitt has 5 touchdown. Kicker Jordan Williamson is 49/51 on extra points and 12/15 on field goals with a long of 45 yards. He missed several games and Eric Whitaker was 14/15 on extra points, and 4/5 on field goals with a long of 37 yards as his replacement. Defensive back Wayne Lyons (foot) and linebacker Shayne Skov (knee) are both out for the season.

Oklahoma St is averaging 557 yards a game, including 386.2 passing yards. The Cowboys score 49.3 points a game. OSU is in the top 3 nationally in all three categories. The Cowboys rush for 170.8 yards a game. Although, Oklahoma St did rush for 278 yards against Oklahoma in the Bedlam game. The Cowboys have 22 turnovers and have allowed just 11 sacks this season. OSU is 92/185 on third and fourth down conversions, and 68/77 scoring in the red zone with 50 touchdowns. The Cowboys give up 445.7 yards a game, including 265.6 passing yards and 180.1 rushing yards a game. All are near the bottom of nation statistically. However, Oklahoma St only gives up 25.8 points a game. This is mainly because OSU forces so many turnovers. The Cowboys have forced 42 turnovers and 28 sacks. Cowboy opponents are 96/226 on third and fourth down conversions, along with 31/43 scoring in the red zone with 21 touchdowns. OSU has 5 defensive/special teams touchdowns this year.

OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden is 379/522 passing (72.6% completions) for 4,328 yards with 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Running back Joseph Randle has 198 carries, 1,193 yards, with 23 touchdowns, along with 38 catches, 238 yards, and 2 touchdown catches. Jeremy Smith has 90 carries, 645 yards, and 9 touchdowns, along with 10 catches for 74 yards. Herschel Sims has two touchdown runs on 31 carries this season. Justin Blackmon is widely considered the best receiver in the country. He is a two time Biletnikoff award winner. Blackmon has 113 catches, 1,336 yards, and 15 touchdowns this season. Tracy Moore has 45 catches, 672 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Josh Cooper has 64 catches, 660 yards, and 3 scores. Hubert Anyiam is out for the season with a broken foot. He had had 27 catches, with 3 touchdowns. Isaiah Anderson has 26 catches with 4 touchdowns. Cornerback Justin Gilbert has 2 kick returns for touchdowns this season . Kicker Quinn Sharp is 74/75 on extra points and 20/23 on field goals with a long of 46 yards. He did miss a kick near the end of regulation against Iowa St that would have given the Cowboys the win. OSU offensive lineman Jonathan Rush (knee), cornerback Devin Hedgepeth (Achilles), and safety Johnny Thomas (ineligible) are all out for the season.

OSU is 9-3 against the spread and the total is 4-6-2 this season. Stanford is 10-2 ATS and the total is 6-6 this season. The Cardinal are 7-0 ATS in non-conference games, 19-6-1 after a cover, and after allowing less than 20 points, 6-2 against teams with winning records, 20-8-1 on grass, 34-16-1 overall, and after a win. The Cowboys are 4-0 ATS as a neutral site favorite, 22-4-2 as a favorite of between 3.5 and 10 points, 5-1 in non-conference games, and against Pac 10/12 teams, 8-2 after a straight up win, 11-3 after scoring 40 points or more, 7-2 against teams with winning records, 12-4 after a cover, 3-1-1 as a bowl favorite, 19-7 overall, 49-19-2 as a favorite, and 5-2 after a straight up win of 20 points or more.

These are two of the most explosive offenses in the country, and the defenses, not so much. Stanford is strong against the run, but OSU depends more on the passing game anyway. The total is 74 points and these two teams could reach that by halftime. Maybe they won’t score as many as Baylor and Washington did in the Alamo Bowl last week, but I still see this as a shootout. The last time Stanford faced a team as fast as Oklahoma St, the Cardinal were crushed by Oregon 53-30. I could see a similar score here.

Our college football handicappers are crushing the sports books in the bowl season. Don’t miss out on any more winners this season.





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