Could there be a split national championship?

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Could there be a split national championship?

From Comcast SportsNetGLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Oklahoma State has its chance to be in the national-championship conversation. All the Cowboys need now is a little help from Alabama. Surviving a missed field goal at the end of regulation and getting a big kick of its own in overtime, No. 3 Oklahoma State opened the door for the chance at a split national championship with a wildly entertaining 41-38 win over No. 4 Stanford on Monday night. "There is nothing we can do from here," said Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, who tied the Fiesta Bowl record with three touchdown catches. "I do think we do have the best team in the nation." Oklahoma State (12-1) kept pace with Andrew Luck and the high-scoring Cardinal, getting huge performances from its two stars, Brandon Weeden and Blackmon, in their final college game. Weeden threw for 399 yards and the three touchdowns to Blackmon, who announced he's leaving for the NFL after catching eight passes for 186 yards. All that and the Cowboys' fortunes came down to two legs, those of Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson and their own Jordan Sharp. Williamson couldn't come through. The redshirt freshman missed a 35-yard field goal wide left as time expired in regulation and another from 43 yards to open overtime. Given a chip shot after Weeden hit Colton Chelf on a 24-yard pass -- initially ruled a touchdown but overturned on review -- Sharp came through, sending his 22-yard field goal through the uprights and the Cowboys charging onto the field. Should Alabama knock off top-ranked LSU in next week's BCS championship game, Oklahoma State will be right there, ready to stake its claim at being No. 1 in The Associated Press poll. "We feel like we could beat anyone in the country," Chelf said. Stanford (11-2) had its chances. The Cardinal had 590 yards of offense -- nearly 200 more than Oklahoma State -- got another stellar game from Luck before he heads to the NFL, and ran over Oklahoma State's defense behind Stepfan Taylor. They just couldn't finish it off. Luck calmly led Stanford 63 yards over the final 2:35 of regulation to set up a chance at winning its second BCS bowl game in two years. Instead, Williamson missed in regulation, again in overtime and was left sobbing in front of his locker while his coaches and teammates tried to shoulder some of the blame. "In the end, we lost, and I'm as much to blame as anyone," Luck said. Taylor ran for 177 yards and a pair of scores. Luck was his usual steady self, hitting 27 of 31 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. The Cardinal held Oklahoma State to 15 yards rushing on 13 carries and didn't give up the lead until the final play. Still, it wasn't enough, the Cardinal's hopes sailing wide left off the right foot of Williamson, who missed three field goals after missing three all season. "There's an old saying that adversity reveals character -- and that's not just for him, that's for all of us," Stanford coach David Shaw said. The Fiesta Bowl needed a pick-me-up game after the year it had. Last year's game was a dud on pretty much all accounts. Connecticut had trouble filling its allotment of tickets and keeping up with Oklahoma, the 48-20 rout leading to a big dip in the ratings. Not long after that, the bowl got tangled in controversy, nearly losing its BCS status following financial improprieties that were uncovered and led to the firing of executive director John Junker. This matchup figured to be the ticket to match the golden jackets worn by Fiesta Bowl officials. Oklahoma State has an electrifying offense -- second in scoring, third in total yards -- run by the 28-year-old Weeden and featuring Blackmon, the two-time Biletnikoff Award winner. The Cowboys also came in with a chip on their shoulders, believing they should have gotten a shot at the BCS title game instead of it being a rematch of the field-goal-kicking Game of the Century earlier this season between Alabama and LSU. Finishing a tantalizingly close .0086 behind the Crimson Tide in the BCS standings, Oklahoma State had plenty to prove, with booster T. Boone Pickens saying the Cowboys should get first-place votes in The Associated Press poll with a Fiesta win and a loss by LSU in the title game. Across the field was Stanford, another one-loss team that could have a legitimate beef with the BCS system. The Cardinal lost to eventual Pac-12 champion Oregon and crushed nearly everyone else with an offense that was top-15 in scoring and yardage. Stanford also has Luck, the two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up and all-but-certain No. 1 overall NFL pick, complemented by a powerful running game that's as good as any. The Fiesta Bowl had a pretty good lead-in, too: Oregon's wild, 45-38 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Stanford had the advantage early, piling up 225 yards while going up 14-0 early in the second quarter on Luck's 53-yard touchdown pass to Ty Montgomery and Jeremy Stewart ran for a 24-yard score. With its offense stranded in the desert early, Oklahoma State got back in it quickly thanks to Blackmon. The junior caught his first pass by splitting the middle of Stanford's defense for a 43-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter, then showed off his power on the next, brushing off a defender like a jacket over his shoulder before racing for a 67-yard touchdown that tied it 14-all. Two big catches, 110 yards and the offensive show was on. Taylor scored on a 4-yard run and the Cowboys answered, tying it 21-all at halftime on Weeden's first career rushing touchdown, an ugly-but-effective 2-yarder. Luck hit Zach Ertz on a 6-yard touchdown pass to open the third quarter and, after the teams traded field goals, Weeden found Blackmon on a 17-yard crossing pass that tied the game at 31. Taylor put Stanford up 38-31 with 4 minutes left, ducking behind Stanford's massive offensive line for a 1-yard touchdown. Oklahoma State answered quickly, moving 67 yards in less than two minutes to tie it on Joseph Randle's 4-yard touchdown run. The Cowboys left too much time for Luck, but Stanford's luck ran out when Williamson couldn't come through in regulation and again in overtime. Oklahoma State celebrated what they thought was a touchdown by Chelf in overtime, then did it for real after the replay and Sharp's kick. "Our team rallied. Every time we got down, they just found a way to come back," said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy, who dedicated the victory to the four people who died in the Nov. 17 plane crash that killed Oklahoma State women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna. And now the Cowboys can watch the national title game with a rooting interest, ready to stake their claim should the cards fall right.

Jonathan Toews' late goal sends Blackhawks to win over Canucks

Jonathan Toews' late goal sends Blackhawks to win over Canucks

Jonathan Toews recorded a four-point night, including the game-winning goal, and Corey Crawford recorded his 200th career victory as the Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 on Sunday night.

Crawford, who had struggled in recent starts, stopped 25 of 27 shots in this one. Brian Campbell garnered his 500th career point with his primary assist on Panik's goal. Toews recorded two assists, moving ahead of Jeremy Roenick for 13th among the Blackhawks' all-time assist leaders (330).

Marian Hossa, who recorded an empty-net goal late, garnered his 400th point in a Blackhawks uniform.

The Blackhawks had one of their best first periods on Sunday night, outshooting the Canucks 18-9 and taking that 2-0 lead. Richard Panik scored his 11th goal of the season from the slot off Campbell's feed and Patrick Kane scored his 15th goal of the season.

The third wasn't nearly as good as Troy Stecher scored a power-play goal and Bo Horvat scored 46 seconds later. But Toews scored off a carom off the backboards with 1:18 remaining to regain a 3-2 lead, and Hossa’s empty-net goal sealed it.

Bad blood fueled Bears-Vikings playoff bout profiled in 'Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon'

Bad blood fueled Bears-Vikings playoff bout profiled in 'Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon'

From the high ground of hindsight, what unfolded in the Metrodome that day in 1995 was actually quite a big deal. But not for reasons that you could have really understood at the time watching the Bears stun the Minnesota Vikings 35-18 in the wild card round of the 1994 playoffs.

It was not so much the game alone. It was the overall context of the time for the Bears, before and after.

Though the 1995 season would get off to a 6-2 start for the Bears before their near-historic collapse, the Minnesota game would prove to be the high-water mark for the coaching tenure of Dave Wannstedt. This was the postseason, and the Bears looked to be going where then-president Mike McCaskey envisioned when he made the play to beat the New York Giants in securing Wannstedt, who was unquestionably the hot coaching prospect coming out of the Dallas Super Bowl pantheon after the 1992 season.

To fully grasp the situation, you need to understand the undercurrent of venom that had developed between the Bears and Vikings. Bears-Packers might have been the glitzy rivalry, but what had grown between the Bears and Vikings was true hostility, with little of the respect that the Bears and Packers had managed. The Vikings carried grudges for Pro Bowl slights going back almost to the Bears' Super Bowl win. One Bears defensive lineman remarked that his most hated opponent was Minnesota right tackle Tim Irwin, adding, "He's a guy that, if I ran over him with a car, I'd back up over him to make sure I got him." Dwayne Rudd's backpedaling taunt after an interception came a couple years later, but you get the idea.

What's easily forgotten looking back through the mists of time was the epic decision made by Wannstedt to make a quarterback change, from a quarterback he wanted in free agency to one he knew well from their time together at the University of Miami. That was every bit the turning point of the season and the real reason the playoff trip and win ever happened.

The Bears had been annihilated in their first game against the Vikings in the 1994 season — 42-14 — and something was really, really wrong, which become glaringly more evident just a few weeks later, even though the Bears were reaching a 4-2 mark under quarterback Erik Kramer, the centerpiece of an aggressive offseason foray into free agency. But the Bears then lost — badly — to the Lions and Packers, with Kramer throwing three interceptions against Detroit and two against Green Bay, the latter in only 10 pass attempts.

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I talked privately to Kramer after the Green Bay game, specifically about why it was that he was playing his absolute worst against Detroit, Green Bay and Minnesota, all teams with which he was intimately familiar. My thought: You know those defenses and where their people are going to be.

Kramer shook his head: "The 'other guys' I know. It's my own guys. I don't know where they're supposed to be."

It wasn't a comment on his receivers whatsoever. It was Kramer admitting bluntly that he was not getting the West Coast scheme of coordinator Ron Turner and its timing element.

Wannstedt knew it wasn't working and made the change to Steve Walsh, who'd been the Hurricanes' quarterback under Jimmy Johnson when Wannstedt was the defensive coordinator.

That was the tipping point, and Walsh and Wannstedt are among the principals of "Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon," airing on Monday at 8 p.m. on CSN.

Anyone with any time spent in or around the NFL knows that beating a team three times in a season is incredibly difficult. The Bears had been blown out in the first Minnesota game but had pushed the Vikings to overtime in the second and would have won had Kevin Butler not missed a 40-yard field goal try.

The playoff meeting was No. 3, and after the Vikings put up a field goal in the first quarter, the Bears scored with a Lewis Tillman touchdown in the second and just pulled steadily away from the winner of the only NFL division that produced four teams with winning records.

From there it would be another decade-plus — 2006 season — before the Bears would win a playoff game.