2012 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Stanford vs Oklahoma State Odds, Free Picks and Predictions on ESPN 1/2/12

Free College Football Bowl Picks and Spreads: Stanford vs Oklahoma St 2012 Fiesta Bowl Game Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on ESPN 1/2/12: Other than the BCS Championship Game, Monday’s Tostitos Fiesta Bowl may just be the best game of the entire bowl season. Two teams that could make a strong case for taking on the top-ranked LSU Tigers for the national title will go head to head when the fourth-ranked Stanford Cardinal (11-1) meet the third-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys (11-1). For the second year in a row, a loss to Oregon was the only thing standing between Stanford and a national title shot. Meanwhile, a double-overtime loss to unranked Iowa State derailed the Cowboys late in the year. Despite missing out on the ultimate prize, both teams have one final chance to make a statement and prove that they deserved to be playing the Tigers. Oklahoma State is a four-point favorite entering the matchup.

Dominating offenses have been the calling cards for both teams. The Cowboys rank second in the country, scoring 49.3 points per game, and the Cardinal rank seventh, averaging 43.6. Oklahoma State uses a spread passing attack that helped the Cowboys rank second in passing yards per game and third in total yards. Meanwhile, Stanford uses a more conventional offense that ranked inside the top 30 in both rushing and passing yards. On game day, the balance of the Cardinal offense will go up against the explosiveness of the Cowboys’ attack.

At the center of both offenses are two excellent quarterbacks. By now, everyone has heard of Stanford starter Andrew Luck, who is well on his way to becoming the top pick in the NFL draft. He has 35 touchdowns on the year, while completing 70 percent of his passes. His counterpart Brandon Weeden has thrown for more than 4,300 yards for Oklahoma State, along with 34 touchdowns. Both signal callers are adept at running their particular offenses, and while Weeden will look to stretch the field, Luck will be focused more on methodically moving the chains.

Although Luck is considered the better pro prospect, Weeden will have something Luck doesn’t in Monday’s matchup. Oklahoma State star receiver Justin Blackmon gives Weeden a weapon in the passing game that Stanford can’t match. Blackmon has 113 catches, 1,336 yards and 15 scores this year, and he will join Luck in the first round of next year’s draft. In the meantime, Blackmon should give the Stanford secondary fits with his speed and athleticism.

Ironically, the defenses for both sides aren’t really built to defend the other team’s offense. Stanford’s stingy but conservative unit could struggle against the up-tempo offense of the Cowboys. Meanwhile, the strength of the Oklahoma State defense has been forcing turnovers, but those could be tough to come with Luck throwing the ball. The end result could be plenty of points on the scoreboard for both teams.

With both quarterbacks highlighting their teams, the X-factor in the game could turn out to be the running game. The Cardinal averages more than 200 yards per game on the ground, and if Stanford can establish its power running game, controlling the clock and limiting the Cowboys’ offensive opportunities becomes possible. For Oklahoma State, the duo of Joseph Randall and Jeremy Smith provide an explosive wrinkle to the pass-heavy offense. With the Weeden spreading out defenses with the passing game, the two-headed monster has combined for 32 rushing scores this year. If the Cowboys ground game starts piling up points as well, Luck and company could struggle to keep up.

In a game that should feature plenty of points from both sides, the Cowboys’ ability to score quickly should come in handy. Stanford struggled to keep up with the speed of the Oregon offense in the Cardinal’s only loss, and the Cowboys force the issue on offense in a similar fashion. Luck and company has been able to wear down most opponents with their size and power, but the relentless offense of Oklahoma State just doesn’t slow down. Luck will get his numbers and make the game interesting, but the Cowboys have too much firepower for the Cardinal to handle.

Prediction: Oklahoma State Cowboys (-3.5) Cover the Spread

Free College Football Picks and NCAAF Predictions: Oklahoma St -3.5 to cover the spread

2012 Fiesta Bowl: Stanford vs Oklahoma St
Date: 1/2/12
Time: 8:30 PM EST on ESPN
Vegas Odds Favorite: Oklahoma St -3.5 Total: Over/Under 73.5

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