Originally posted on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 12/6/11

Stanford and Oklahoma State can play the "what if" game all they want, but both programs will have to settle on playing in the Fiesta Bowl.

The winner may actually stake a claim to No. 2 in the nation.

But the Cardinal's loss to Oregon and the Cowboys' loss to Iowa State cost both teams a shot at LSU and the BCS National Championship.

Something tells me, though, that both teams will bounce back just fine. Neither program is a perennial power, so getting a big stage like the Fiesta Bowl to make one final statement and a shot at 12 victories should be motivation enough.

Let's face it; we're getting a battle of No. 3 vs. No. 4. This is how the BCS is supposed to work, right?

The styles are contrasting.

Stanford likes to bully teams around with its huge offensive line, strong running game and All-American quarterback Andrew Luck. The pro-style attack works for David Shaw's group.

Luck, who will likely be the top pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, has thrown for 3,170 and 35 touchdowns. His career record is 31-7 in three seasons in Palo Alto.

The Cowboys haven't faced a team like Stanford all season, and the play-action passes could cause them some huge issues on defense. Remember, Oklahoma State's defense is allowing almost 26 points a game.

Where Okie State has an advantage will be overall team speed. It's not like Stanford is slow, but we saw how Oregon attacked with this advantage and the Ducks romped in the second half.

Stanford's defense struggled against Oregon's high-powered offense, so it's hard not to imagine this unit doing much better against the Cowboys.

Oklahoma State is averaging 49.3 points per game and 386.3 passing yards a game. The Cowboys also run the ball at 170.8 yards per game.

Let's see the Cardinal try to stop the offensive trio of Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon and Joseph Randle.

Weeden, a 28-year-old former minor league pitcher, has enjoyed a stupendous senior year. He has thrown for 4,328 yards and 34 touchdowns while, leading the Cowboys to a 22-3 record over his two years as the starter in Stillwater.

This match up has all the makings of a classic showdown, and when all is said and done the winner can complain about not having a playoff.

Prediction: Stanford 38, Oklahoma State 32

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