(13) Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. (15) Oregon (9-3)|
Tuesday, December 30th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
From The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: In a game expected by many to be a shootout, the Oklahoma State
Cowboys of the Big 12 Conference and the Oregon Ducks of the Pac-10 will
collide in the 2008 Holiday Bowl.
Oklahoma State is set to make its sixth bowl appearance in the last seven
years, and the program is 12-6 all-time in bowl games. The .666 winning
percentage in bowl games is the best among all Big 12 teams. OSU appeared in
the 1988 Holiday Bowl, crushing Wyoming in that tilt with current Cowboys'
head coach Mike Gundy being the school's quarterback. He is set to become the
first person to ever participate in the Holiday bowl as both a player and a
coach. "I have always appreciated the opportunity to coach at my alma mater,"
say Gundy, who recently received a contract extension that will keep him with
the program until 2015. "This is the best job in the country."
Oklahoma State, which is 9-3 overall this year, can tie a school record for
wins in a season if it is able to knock off Oregon.
The Ducks are making their fourth consecutive post-season appearance and 12th
bowl trip in 14 years under head coach Mike Bellotti. They are participating
in the Holiday Bowl for the third time this decade, as they beat Texas in the
2000 version of this game before dropping a decision to Oklahoma in 2005. "We
are honored and excited to accept this invitation, Bellotti said of this bowl
matchup. "Oklahoma State is a great football team and this match-up is going
to be exciting for our players and fans, and fans of college football."
Oregon finished the regular season with a 9-3 record and tied for second in
the Pac-10 with a 7-2 mark.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between Oklahoma State and Oregon on
Oklahoma State is one of many Big 12 teams with an explosive offensive unit.
The Cowboys are averaging 41.6 ppg and 489.2 total ypg, tremendous numbers by
any standards. Few teams in the nation run the ball as effectively as OSU,
which is posting 256.0 rushing ypg and 5.6 yards per carry. Of the 59
touchdowns scored by the offense this season, 35 have come on the ground.
Kendall Hunter has been sensational for the club, as the talented tailback has
rushed for 1,518 yards and 14 touchdowns while averaging 6.7 yards per
attempt. Keith Toston adds nine rushing scores to the mix, and versatile
quarterback Zac Robinson has 508 rushing yards and seven touchdowns to his
As a passer, Robinson has thrown for 2,735 yards and 24 touchdowns against
only eight interceptions, all while completing 67 percent of his tosses. There
is no doubt that Robinson benefits tremendously from the ability of star
wideout Dez Bryant, who has 74 catches for 1,313 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Bryant has also returned two punts for touchdowns this season.
The Cowboys have struggled defensively in many games this season, and they are
allowing 26.9 ppg and 392.2 total ypg overall. They have been victimized for
27 passing touchdowns while registering only 11 interceptions, numbers that
simply are not acceptable. Oklahoma State has also yielded 16 rushing scores,
although more than two-thirds of all the yardage surrendered by the team this
season has come through the air.
Opponents have been able to move the chains on 40 percent of their third-down
conversion attempts, a figure that coach Gundy would like to be a bit lower.
Also, the coaching staff can't be happy about the fact that OSU has only
registered 13 sacks all season. Andrew Sexton is the leading tackler for the
Cowboys with 92 total stops, but the defense is void of an elite player. In
fact, the player who helps the defense the most is actually punter Matt Fodge,
who recently won the Ray Guy Award.
Oregon only scored 10 points in a loss to USC and 16 points in a setback to
California. Other than those two defeats in which the offense struggled, the
Ducks seemed to march up and down the field with relative ease. They averaged
41.9 ppg during the regular season and averaged 478.2 total ypg.
As good as the Oklahoma State ground attack has been, Oregon's running game
has been even more potent. The club is rushing for 277.8 ypg and has reached
the end zone 42 times via the run, a staggering total. Sophomore quarterback
Jeremiah Massoli hasn't been asked to do too much as a passer, but he has
completed 57 percent of his passes for 12 touchdowns and four interceptions.
He has also rushed for 612 yards and seven touchdowns. Jeremiah Johnson has
rushed for 1,082 yards and 12 touchdowns, while LeGarrette Blount has posted
928 yards and 16 scores on the ground.
Considering the fact that Oregon runs the ball so well, it is surprising that
the Ducks are losing the time of possession battle by nearly 10 minutes on
"Historically, these two teams have scored a lot of points," says Oregon's
Bellotti, who has an offense that can rival the unit at Oklahoma State. "It's
interesting that the two teams have run the ball very, very well. But probably
the team that plays the best defense will be the one that wins the game. So
we'll probably be talking about the offenses going in (into the game) but
probably be talking about the defenses going out."
The Ducks are allowing 28.0 ppg and 383.0 total ypg, and of the 39 touchdowns
they have surrendered to opposing offenses, 24 have come through the air.
Oregon has recorded 29 takeaways this season, including 14 interceptions, and
the squad has posted an impressive total of 38 sacks. Nik Reed is a tremendous
performer for the Ducks, as he has recorded 13 sacks this season. Jairus Byrd
and Walter Thurmond have managed four interceptions apiece, and Byrd has 18
Oklahoma State's three losses have come against teams that were ranked first,
second and third in the AP poll at the time of those contests. The Cowboys are
the best three-loss team in the nation and will prove it against Oregon.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma State 49, Oregon 37
12/26 10:53:15 ET