<
>

Fiesta Bowl: Stanford vs. Oklahoma State

The wait is over.

It's been decades for Oklahoma State, and a month for the rest of us. It's time to get the BCS started in the Big 12. Here's a preview of what we can expect in tonight's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl between No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Stanford.

WHO TO WATCH: Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden. All things considered, receiver Justin Blackmon is probably this team's "best" player, but Weeden is the guy who makes the offense run. The Cowboys can move the ball without Blackmon making a big impact, and Weeden is the reason. He's scary accurate, and his level demeanor is exactly what most coaches love to have in a QB. If OSU wins this game, it will be because of Weeden.

WHAT TO WATCH: Oklahoma State's front seven vs. Stanford's offensive line. The Cowboys are missing suspended defensive tackle Christian Littlehead, but they'll be taking on what OSU coaches said this week is the best offensive line -- and the best team -- the Cowboys have seen all season. Stanford wants to get physical, and quarterback Andrew Luck will get his offense into plays that will take advantage of any opportunities. Most often, that may mean a bruising running game.

WHY TO WATCH: Because it's going to be a great game, that's why! Unless you're allergic to touchdowns, you could make the argument that this is the most attractive of all the bowl matchups. LSU and Alabama are playing in The Big One, but these are two really good one-loss teams not far from playing for the national title, spearheaded by great quarterbacks who'll assure it's a tight, cleanly played game.

PREDICTION: Oklahoma State 34, Stanford 31. Truth be told, I don't have a great feel for what's going to happen in this one. Stanford's got a slight edge in experience in games like these, but both of these teams are fully capable of blowing out the other. Oklahoma State's a more athletic, faster team. Stanford's more physical. One's got to win out. Stanford's not packing an SEC defense, though, so I'll go with the Pokes to get the W in their BCS debut.