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.”