Oklahoma St. vs Oregon
From Qualcomm Stadium in beautiful San Diego, CA comes the 2008 Holiday Bowl featuring this match-up between the #13 Oklahoma St Cowboys (9-3) of the Big-12 and the #15 Oregon Ducks (9-3) out of the Pac-10. Oregon has played in 2 Holiday Bowls in recent history, beating the Texas Longhorns 35-30 back in 2000, and then losing to the Oklahoma Sooners in 2005 by a score of 17-14.
The Oregon Ducks finished Conference play with a 7-2 record, good for 2nd place and just a Game behind Conference champion USC. The Ducks ruined Oregon States chances at the PAC-10 title and a Rose Bowl berth with a 65-38 road drubbing in the annual Civil War Game to end the season on a strong note. Oregon features a high-powered offense that averages 478 yds and nearly 42 pts per Game, both good for #1 rankings in the Conference in their respective categories. Most of the damage is done with a power running Game that averages almost 278 yds per Game, also good for #1 in the conference. The Ducks have a dominating rushing attack that features RBs Jeremiah Johnson and LeGArrette Blount, who have combined for over 2000 yds, 28 TDs, and a 7 yd per carry average. Sophomore QB Jeremiah Masoli is also a running threat with 612 yds and 7 TDs on his own, and a 5.5 ypc average. As a team, the Ducks have rushed for 3334 yds, which is good for the # 4 ranking in all of Division 1-A. The Oregon offense is not one-dimensional however, as the Ducks have also passed for over 2400 yds and another 19 TDs, for a staggering offensive total of 5738 yds, 61 TDs and 18 FGs in just 12 Games! Of course the defense could probably use a little help.
The Ducks own the 80th ranked defensive unit in the nation, giving up around 383 yds and 28 pts per Game, on average. They actually appear pretty stout against the run, giving up an average of just 119 ypg. But its mainly due to the fact that their Games usually end up in a shoot-out, and their opponents have to throw the ball in an effort to keep up. As a result, they are giving up an average of 263 yds passing per Game and have given up 24 passing TDs, which ranks them at the bottom of the Conference in both categories. But they do rank 6th in the nation in sacks, 9th in tackles for loss and 13th in turnovers GAined.
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Oregons 3 losses were to Boise St., USC and California, teams with a combined record of 31-5, with their biggest win being that 27 pt road win over a very good Oregon St team that was ranked #17 at the time.
The Oklahoma St Cowboys had similar success, winning the easier Games, but losing to Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma who had a combined record of 34-3. Their most impressive win was a 28-23 road win over the Missouri Tigers, who were undefeated and ranked 3rd in the nation at the time. The Cowboys are also similar in that they also boast a power running Game that ranks just slightly below the Ducks at 256 yds per Game, good for the 7th highest in the nation. Their premiere runner is RB Kendall Hunter who has amassed 1518 yds and 14 TDs. But also like Oregon, theyve got a second option with RB Keith Toston , who had 658 yds and 9 TDs. And Cowboy QB Zac Robinson has very similar numbers to Duck QB Masoli with 508 yds and 7 TDs on the ground.
Oklahoma St probably has the edge in the passing Game with Robinson completing 67% of his throws for over 2700 yds and 24 TDs, with just 8 INTs. And WR Dez Bryant is one of the premiere receivers in college football, ranking 3rd in receiving yds per Game (109 ypg), 2nd in total receiving yds (1313 yds), 4th in scoring (10 ppg) and he is also ranked 3rd in the nation in punt returns, with an average return of nearly 18 yds, and with 2 returned for TDs. As a team, the Cowboys are averaging 41.6 pts per Game and 489 total yds of offense per Game.
Oklahoma St is also very similar to Oregon on the defensive side with very similar numbers in both rushing and passing defense, as well as scoring defense in giving up just about 27 pts per Game.
Its really creepy how similar these two teams are on both sides of the ball. These are probably two of the most evenly matched teams in the bowl Game pairings this year. The Ducks likely have an advantage with their being familiar with the venue. And they did end the season on a huge high note, whereas the Cowboys had the disappointing loss in their biggest Game of the year. In a Game this even I would be very tempted to take any points I could get, so Im going to go with the team that broke the 60 pt barrier 3 times this season, is likely to be the crowd favorite, and is also getting points to boot. Oregon Ducks +3
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