Say what you want about special teams, but Stanford’s pass defense cost it the Fiesta Bowl. On that fateful night in January, the Cardinal executed its game plan to perfection in the three other phases of the game: it rushed for 243 yards and three touchdowns, allowed practically nothing from Oklahoma State on the ground and benefited from a 27-for-31, 347-yard effort from Andrew Luck in his final collegiate game.
It put an explosive finishing touch on one of Stanford’s best defensive performances in recent memory. It marked the start of a season that would nearly double the number of turnovers that went in Stanford’s favor. It demonstrated definitively that the Cardinal secondary would be a force to be reckoned with.
And it almost didn’t happen.