SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The bloom isn’t exactly off the desert rose. But let’s just say the Stanford Cardinal aren’t as wide-eyed as they were when they stopped off in Miami for last year’s Orange Bowl.
For the second straight season, the Cardinal are playing in a BCS bowl game. They’ll face Oklahoma State -- BCS bowl rookies -- on Jan. 2. While the experience of being in one of college football’s red carpet bowl games is still thrilling, Stanford's approach is business-like and professional.
“The novelty maybe has worn off a little bit and we realize that this is just another game,” said Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. “They just happen to be the No. 3 team in the nation and probably the best team we’ve played. But it’s still another game, and we can’t get caught up in all of the hype."
But aren’t you the No. 4 team in the nation?
“Yeah, that’s true,” Luck said with a smile. “Despite all of the hype, it’s still about trying to win a football game.”
Except for swapping oceanfront views for desert beauty, little has changed from a preparation standpoint for the Cardinal from last year to this year. They are keeping the same schedule, practice tempo and methodical mentality.
“We’ve still got the same approach, regardless of what game it is or who we are playing,” said outside linebacker Chase Thomas. “The intensity is the same in practice. We know what to expect having been there before. I don’t know how much the experience matters. It’s just like any other game and that’s how we’re preparing -- just like it’s another game.”
Last season, you might recall, Luck and tight end Coby Fleener had monster games en route to a 40-12 win against Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Luck threw four touchdowns – three of them to Fleener, who finished with six catches for 173 yards. No one is expecting a lopsided score when the Nos. 3 and 4 teams get together.
And just because Oklahoma State is in its first BCS bowl game, don’t expect the Cowboys to be overwhelmed by the experience. Stanford certainly wasn’t last year.
“I don’t know if the experience of the game matters as much as actually getting there,” said Oklahoma State wide receiver Tracy Moore. “We’ve been to plenty of bowl games in the past and we’ve played in plenty of big games over the years. We’ve never been to one of these, but we have a chip on our shoulder and we’re in it to win it.”