After a Stanford fumble gave the Cowboys first-and-goal at the four-yard line, Joseph Randle ran two times for three yards and a Weeden pass on third down was slightly behind Kye Staley in the back of the end zone. OSU settled for a 19-yard Sharp field goal.
That's a disadvantage of OSU's spread offense, where the quarterback never gets under center. So when the Cowboys got in a similar situation following Chelf's catch in overtime, Gundy was going to take the field goal rather than risk a mistake near the goal line.
“In my opinion, we're no more effective on the three-yard line as we are on the 15-yard line,” Gundy said. “That's one of the issues with our offense.
“We're better this year than we were last year, but there's no reason for us to play into Stanford's strength and use tight ends and wings and bunch everybody up and try to smash the ball in there when they've seen that every day in their practices since August.”
Stanford coach David Shaw also had reason to be confident in Williamson, as the redshirt freshman had missed just three field goal attempts this season before all three of his tries Monday night were off target.
That was evidenced by the conservative play-calling following the biggest momentum play of Stanford's final drive in regulation — a 25-yard connection between Andrew Luck and Jeremy Stewart that got the Cardinal down to the OSU 25. Stepfan Taylor took the handoff on the next two plays to run the clock down before Williamson's miss as time expired.
“We didn't finish, and that's not just the kick at the end,” Shaw said.
Sharp expressed empathy for Williamson after the game, saying that it was unfortunate he had a “rough night.” But he also embraced that Gundy and the Cowboys gave him the opportunity to win the Fiesta Bowl.
“It's not an easy feeling,” Sharp said of a clutch field-goal situation. “Everything comes down to you. You are the last one. It is on the line.”
“I believe in our offense and defense, and they believe in me and our special teams unit.”