Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 1/3/12
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Not once this season did an opposing receiver beat the Stanford defense for 100 yards or more. On Monday night, Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon did it in the second quarter. In Oklahoma State's 41-38 Fiesta Bowl victory, Blackmon reeled in three touchdowns to lead the Cowboys and stole the spotlight in Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck's final college game. As Oklahoma State celebrated a thrilling overtime win, Luck and Blackmon embraced at midfield, undoubtedly overcome with very different emotions. Luck is the consensus first pick in April's NFL draft, and Blackmon might very well be called next. On Monday, though, it was Blackmon who came out on top, hoisting the Fiesta Bowl trophy and another as the game's offensive MVP. "The win itself, getting the win for my teammates and all the seniors on the team was enough," Blackmon said. "I could've had no catches and no touchdowns. As long as we won, I would have been excited." The Stanford defense knew exactly what it was up against in Blackmon, a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation's top college receiver and a unanimous All-American, but still had no answer for the extraordinarily athletic junior; at least not for four quarters. As both defenses started the game strong, it looked like Blackmon might be limited. He finished the first quarter without a single catch. But instead of getting frustrated, Blackmon got motivated. "I wouldn't say I was mad, just irritated with what was going on," Blackmon said. "I knew we could play better, and I just tried to help the team play as best as they could. If that takes me I guess getting mad, I guess I'll get mad and just go out there and do it." Blackmon caught four passes from Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden in the second quarter, torching the Cardinal defense for 139 yards and two touchdowns. One of those came for 67 yards, Blackmon's longest catch of the season. Then he got shut down again, finishing the third quarter with the same line he took into half time. But when the game was on the line, Blackmon displayed exactly what it takes to succeed on the next level. With just under three and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter and Oklahoma State down a seven, the Cowboys faced a crucial fourth down with three yards to go. A failure to convert probably meant a loss. Stanford had to know the ball was going to Blackmon, but there was nothing to be done. Blackmon got enough separation across the middle and Weeden connected for 21 yards to keep the drive alive. Moments later the game was knotted at 38 with 2:35 to play. "He really stepped up and made big time plays like a big time player would make," Stanford cornerback Terrence Brown said. "We didn't expect anything different from him." As much as Stanford had to know where the ball was going, Weeden was certain. "If I know it's one on one, there is nobody really I throw it to other than Blackmon, maybe (Senior Josh) Cooper," Weeden said. "In that situation, I'm going to Blackmon 100 percent of the time." Ending the game with eight catches for 186 yards, Blackmon notched his seventh 100-plus yard receiving game of the season. It was the first time this season he caught three touchdowns in a game, and the sixth time he caught more than one. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy last week called Blackmon the best wide receiver to play at the school and the best player it had seen since Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders. He reiterated that praise Monday, but said he's come to expect such performances from the receiver. "He doesn't surprise me because I've seen him do it so many times," Gundy said. "To make big catches in crucial situations then make plays with the ball in his hands when the other team knows he's going to do it, it's pretty amazing, especially when team's roll up on him like tonight. "Stanford's game plan, other than blitz, was to roll up and play a guy down on him. He still finds a way to get open and get the ball, and the quarterback finds a way to get it to him." In his dazzling performance Monday, Blackmon demonstrated the skills of a pro playing on the college level. He's all but declared for the draft, and it's hard to imagine any team hasn't tagged him with a "sure thing" label. Many tuned into Monday's game for Luck, and they got it as the senior put on a show worthy of a No. 1 draft pick. But more than Luck, they got Blackmon, a player just as talented and just as likely to help reverse the fortunes of an NFL franchise in the years to come.
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