Brandon Weeden considers himself somewhat of an analyst when it comes to other quarterbacks, breaking down their games and gifts and flaws whenever he has a chance.
And Weeden agrees with all the fuss over Stanford's Andrew Luck.
“I can see why teams have him going with the first pick (in the NFL Draft),” Weeden said. “All the talk about, ‘Suck for Luck,' I don't blame them. He's going to be a difference maker for a long time.”
And yet, the Weeden everyone knows doesn't lack for competition, either. With his Cowboys now paired opposite Luck and Stanford in the Jan. 2 Fiesta Bowl, Weeden understands he'll be sized up side-by-side with what many consider to be the clear No. 1 pick in next April's NFL Draft.
And he welcomes it.
“It'll be fun,” said Weeden, whose gotten to know Luck at the Manning Passing Academy the past two summers. “You want to see where you stack up a little bit. It'll be nice to be on the same field and see where I stack up and where we stack up as a team.”
Sunday night, just minutes after the Cowboys-Cardinal clash was made public, the quarterback faceoff became an obvious focus. And it will only continue that way throughout the month and throughout the game, as the two one-time Heisman Trophy favorites share the same field in what has to be the premier quarterback showdown of the bowl season.
“They're both great quarterbacks,” said OSU receiver Josh Cooper. “They're both on the Heisman list. It's going to be fun to watch. There's going to be a lot of talk about it.”
And Cooper grinned when asked how his favorite quarterback might compare.
“I know Weeden is going to go out there and perform,” Cooper said. “He loves that kind of stuff. I look forward to seeing that and playing with him in that game.”
Oklahoma State's dreams weren't fully realized Sunday, even as they carried on the revelry from a first Big 12 championship, delivered in a 44-10 rout of Bedlam rival Oklahoma on Saturday night. The Cowboys made their case for inclusion in the BCS Championship game but needed help to climb over Alabama to No. 2 behind LSU in the BCS Standings.
The Cowboys came close, falling just .009 behind the Crimson Tide and finishing No. 3 in the standings. The letdown was obvious, but not unexpected, as sourced leaks of an Alabama-LSU rematch popped up on Twitter and other social media sites throughout the day.
Still, the mood was hardly somber when the team gathered to watch ESPN's BCS show. The Pokes are Big 12 champs. They're in the Fiesta Bowl. They're headed for Scottsdale – in winter.
That's no small consolation prize. And they and the program are bound to get much mileage from what is bound to be a highly anticipated matchup of No. 3 and 4 teams and future pro quarterbacks.
“Me, personally, I'm excited to go to Scottsdale and play in the Fiesta Bowl,” Weeden said. “I said it before our first game, our goal was to win the Big 12 championship and play in a BCS game. The big one would have been better, but this is still special.”
The Cardinal, 11-1, are guided by Luck, who might again be the Heisman Trophy front-runner and a quarterback considered by most analysts as the clear favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft in April. Most thought he'd have gone No. 1 last spring had he not opted to return to Palo Alto, Calif., much like Weeden did with the Cowboys.
A senior from Houston, Luck has thrown for 3,170 yards and 35 touchdowns, with nine interceptions this season.
By comparison – and the comparisons will keep coming – Weeden has thrown for 4,328 yards and 34 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions.
Beyond the QBs, the two schools' regular seasons were also similar. Stanford started 9-0 as a national title contender, before losing 53-30 at home to Oregon on Nov. 12. The Cardinal then rebounded with wins over California and Notre Dame to finish the regular season.
The Cowboys' unbeaten season ended a week after Stanford's, with an upset, double-overtime loss at Iowa State that ultimately cost them a shot at LSU in the BCS title game. Then the Bedlam blowout provided a bounce-back.
Yet one more compelling story line: Stanford was burned by Oregon's overall team speed, sure to prompt potential problems in dealing with Justin Blackmon and OSU's spread offense.
Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said: “They're going to hear for the next month that they're going to face a great wideout, spread attack; ‘Can your defense hold up because of the speed and all that?'
“It's a great matchup. Everybody should be fired up about it.”