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Stanford's Luck practically perfect
But Cardinal faces tough test in Hokies

MIAMI -- Andrew Luck threw seven interceptions and 97 incompletions during the regular season. His knowledge of the NFL is less than encyclopedic -- more on that shortly -- and he settled for a B in the most difficult class he has taken at Stanford, a course on mechanics called Engineering 14.

Yet coach Jim Harbaugh is disinclined to find fault.

"Andrew is the real deal," Harbaugh says. "He is the best player I've ever been around, and he's even a finer young man. There's nothing about him where I say I wish he could do this, or I wish he didn't do this. He is just like my wife: He is perfect. You wouldn't change a thing about him."

Stanford's passing paragon will take the national stage tonight in the Orange Bowl (8:30 p.m., ESPN), when the No. 5 Cardinal (11-1) faces No. 12 Virginia Tech (11-2). It could be Luck's final college game: although only a sophomore, he's touted as the likely No. 1 overall draft pick in April if he turns pro.

The BCS game matches two teams that have been climbing in the polls since early in the season. Virginia Tech opened with losses to Boise State and lower-tier James Madison, then regrouped and went undefeated in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Stanford lost in October to Oregon, then swept its final seven regular-season games, its latest surge in a remarkable turnaround under Harbaugh after going 1-11 in 2006.

Luck was a high school junior in Houston when Stanford hired Harbaugh, who spent 15 seasons as an NFL quarterback.

"I did not really know his name, to be honest," Luck says with a sheepish laugh. "Don't tell him I said that."

Soon enough, Luck accepted a scholarship offer from Harbaugh, and now the coach and quarterback have led the Cardinal to its first January bowl since 2000. Like Luck, Harbaugh might be bound for the NFL this year.

First there's the matter of beating Virginia Tech, which happens to have a pretty good QB, too. Senior Tyrod Taylor was chosen ACC player of the year, and he's often compared with one of his predecessors at Tech, Michael Vick.

Taylor seeks his third bowl win in his final college game.

"He's a stud," Luck says. "When the play breaks down, he's making guys miss and making things happen."

***

Oklahoma more than OK

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After five straight BCS bowl losses, a five-loss season and a not-so-glamorous trip to the 2009 Sun Bowl, there were questions about whether Oklahoma was still a national contender.

A convincing win in the Fiesta Bowl should go a long way to remove any doubts.

So what if it was against an overmatched opponent that raised more questions about the BCS system? The ninth-ranked Sooners didn't just end the BCS streak, they stomped all over it and climbed back into the national spotlight by thumping No. 25 Connecticut, 48-20, Saturday night.

"We never stopped believing in each other," Oklahoma junior linebacker Travis Lewis said. "We knew we were a special team."

They certainly were against UConn.

Oklahoma (12-2) used its quick-jabbing offense to wobble the Huskies (8-4) early and the defense hit them with body blows all night to push the BCS losing streak out the door like New Year's Day leftovers.

Landry Jones escaped the shadow of 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford a little more, setting a school bowl record with 429 yards and three touchdowns on 34-of-49 passing.

All-American Ryan Broyles set a school bowl record with 170 yards receiving and tied another with 13 catches, adding a touchdown.

Meanwhile, UConn coach Randy Edsall was hired by Maryland for its head coaching job Sunday. He beat out former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, the favorite when the search began Dec. 20.

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Around the nation

*Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon said a few hours after the Wolverines' 52-14 loss to Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl game that he planned to meet with coach Rich Rodriguez soon -- maybe today or Tuesday -- regarding the coach's future.

*Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley has confirmed that Charlie Weis is leaving to become offensive coordinator at Florida. Weis has been offensive coordinator for the Chiefs for one year after being ousted at Notre Dame after the 2009 season.

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