Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2) vs. Arizona Wildcats (7-5)
Dec. 29, 9:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Oklahoma State take by Big 12 blogger David Ubben: Although the Cowboys’ defense made big improvements late in the season, there's no question: Oklahoma State got here with offense. Under new coordinator Dana Holgorsen, the Cowboys have a Biletnikoff Award finalist in receiver Justin Blackmon and a pair of All-Big 12 first-teamers in quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Kendall Hunter. All three have been tough to stop every time they've taken the field this season.
Oklahoma State's season came down to one game against rival Oklahoma, but a loss to the Sooners kept the Cowboys out of the Big 12 Championship. The bright side: The Cowboys beat out Nebraska and Missouri in the bowl pecking order.
The Cowboys' already historic season -- Mike Gundy's team won 10 regular season games for the first time -- has a great chance to finish on a high note against Arizona. And hey, if the Cowboys can't beat one Stoops, they've got a chance at another in San Antonio. Bob Stoops has bested the Cowboys every year since 2002, but his brother, Mike Stoops, coaches the Wildcats.
Most of that was a quirk of the schedule. The final four games were at Stanford, USC, at Oregon and Arizona State. Still, the Wildcats wanted to take another step in the building of a program. They fell short of that goal because they weren't consistent on either side of the ball.
The Wildcats jumped out of the gate quickly and recorded what seemed at the time a marquee victory over Iowa on Sept. 18. That win included a clutch offensive drive led by quarterback Nick Foles and a dominating effort by the defense. But the Wildcats seemed to be lacking that same fire three weeks later in a home loss to Oregon State.
The Wildcats then reeled off three consecutive wins, including two with Matt Scott at quarterback after Foles injured his knee. But that surge proved illusory when the schedule toughened up.
The running game -- the inability to consistently run the ball and stop the run -- has been a problem for Arizona this year, particularly late in the season. It's what prevented the Wildcats from taking the next step.