GLENDALE, Ariz. — Oklahoma State's celebration at midfield of University of Phoenix Stadium on Monday night signaled redemption as much as victory.
For Quinn Sharp, whose potential game-winning field goal that sailed over the right upright at Iowa State more than a month ago symbolized just how close the Cowboys were to making the national championship game.
For an OSU defense that gave up two grinding touchdown drives in the second half that lasted six minutes or longer and allowed Stanford to get into field-goal range in the final seconds.
For a Cowboy offense that could not turn a Stanford fumble recovered at the Cardinal three-yard line into a touchdown.
Sharp's 22-yard field goal in overtime capped a thrilling 41-38 Fiesta Bowl victory for the Cowboys in a game it appeared that OSU had lost with three seconds remaining in regulation.
Sharp's winning kick came after Stanford's Jordan Williamson missed a 35-yarder as time expired in regulation and then a 43-yarder to start the first overtime period.
“Every time we got down, we were resilient and came back,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said.
After OSU tied the game with 2:35 to play in the fourth on a four-yard touchdown run by Joseph Randle, Andrew Luck directed Stanford on a nine-play 63-yard drive down to the OSU 17. But Williamson's kick sailed wide left, giving the Cowboys extra life.
Following Williamson's second miss, Colton Chelf sent OSU into a momentary frenzy when he snagged a 25-yard pass from Weeden and appeared to score. A replay review showed he was tacked just shy of the goal line. But Sharp's kick sailed through the uprights two plays later to give OSU its first-ever 12-win season and BCS bowl victory.
“When the opportunity arose, I just wanted to make it count for those guys (on offense and defense),” Sharp said.
OSU gained just 13 rushing yards and ran 24 fewer plays than Stanford. But Weeden and Justin Blackmon connected eight times for 186 yards and three touchdowns in their final game as teammates.
And in the offensive shootout that was generally expected, the Cowboys did just enough.
“I have a lot of faith in our players and our coaches,” Gundy said. “This is a big, big game. And I'm excited. But I just let them do it.”
Said Weeden: “I would say this is probably the biggest win in Oklahoma State football history. This is the 12th win, and it's never been done.
“This season has been an unbelievable ride.”