Mike Gundy's decision saved the Cowboys in the Fiesta Bowl

BERRY TRAMEL COMMENTARY — With the Fiesta Bowl on the line, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy decided to go for it on 4th-and-3 and to put the ball into the hands of his stars, Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden.
by Berry Tramel Published: January 3, 2012

“There is a lot of talk about Andrew Luck, and I don't question anything that people say about him,” Gundy said. “He played as good as he could have played tonight. But we had a guy playing for us that was tremendous also. Started a little slow, but once he got going, boy, he can let it loose and make a lot of plays.”

Weeden completed 29 of 42 passes for 399 yards and three touchdowns. It would have been 400 yards and four TDs had his last completion, the overtime strike to Colton Chelf, stood as a touchdown instead of brought back to the 1-yard line.

So Gundy absolutely made the right call in putting the game in Weeden's hands. And here's the ultimate test. If Stanford could make the decision for OSU, which would the Cardinal prefer? Punt, no doubt about it.

Now, Gundy has his brain-lock moments, too. He told me after the game that if OSU hadn't scored so quickly on that last drive – the TD came with 2:35 left, three plays after the fourth down conversion – he would have ordered a two-point conversion.

“Overtime plays into their hands, with their offense,” Gundy said. “Our offense is based on tempo and the spread. We get a lot of our plays on big strikes.” And the compressed field of overtime limits big strikes.

That's all true. And why you don't go for two. The field is more compressed at the 3-yard line, for a two-point conversion, than at the 25 in overtime. The Cowboys had dented the Stanford 10-yard line three times and scored only one touchdown without trickery. Had to settle for a field goal once, had to resort to the first quarterback draw of Weeden's career for a TD.

Plus, the Cowboys had a clear kicking advantage. Jordan Williamson had only pulled one field goal at that point, but OSU's Quinn Sharp clearly had the game's best foot. No reason to disable that advantage.

Fortunately, Gundy went for the tie. Even more fortunately, moments earlier, he asked his best players to go for the win.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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