2008 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl Preview
#10 Oklahoma State (9-3, 5-3 Big XII) vs. #19 Oregon (9-3, 6-3 Pac Ten)
December 30th, 2008 @ 8:00 PM (EST) – ESPN – San Diego, California
San Diego hosts its second major bowl game in the span of a week when the Big XII and Pac Ten match up in what should be a high scoring game. Both teams have had some disappointments against top teams but coming into the game they both are powerful running teams that have the ability to put a lot of points on the scoreboard. Oklahoma State is trying for their first ten win season since 1988, when current head coach Mike Gundy was the starting quarterback.
Oklahoma State finished in 4th place in the toughest division in college football, with their only losses coming to three teams that finished 11-1 ahead of them. The Cowboys feature one of the country’s best quarterbacks in junior Zac Robinson, who threw for 24 Touchdowns against only 8 picks while also being a very dangerous threat to run the ball. Robinson accounted for 3,400 total yards this season. The Cowboys also feature one of the most underrated tailbacks in the country, sophomore Kendall Hunter, who ran for over 1,500 yards and 14 Touchdowns. Oklahoma State also has a pretty solid defense which held both Texas and Missouri to less than 30 points earlier in the season, though they were picked apart late by Texas Tech and Oklahoma. However, the Cowboys are solid up front and should do well defending the run.
Oregon is a very similar team to Oklahoma State, except that they rely on the run even more than their opponents. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli has only thrown for 1,500 yards since taking over earlier this year because of injuries but has also ran for over 600 yards. Tailbacks Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount split the duties carrying the football and both will likely finish with over 1,000 yards rushing this season, though Johnson is definitely their home run threat. Oregon is very explosive, having scored more than 40 points six times this year and are averaging nearly 42 points per game! The Ducks have won their last three games, including an upset win over archrival Oregon State that ruined the Beavers’ Rose Bowl hopes.
This game is going to fly by, as both teams will attempt to run the ball a lot. However, Oklahoma State is a much more balanced team than Oregon, featuring a solid passing attack. Furthermore, the Cowboys are better against the run defensively and have played a much harder schedule. I expect Oklahoma State to run the ball and hit star receiver Dez Bryant on a couple of big plays to produce a ton of points. Oregon will definitely get their share of the offensive fun, especially Johnson, who is extremely explosive, but in the end I think that Oklahoma State’s relentless offense will be too much for Oregon to keep up with.
Holiday Bowl Pick: Oklahoma State 41 - Oregon 34
by Matt Baxendell
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