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Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl preview

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The Holiday Bowl should be one of the most entertaining games during this bowl season with two high-powered offenses and two defenses that struggled against top opposition. Brace yourself for a shootout with all of the top talent on both sides of the field.

Who to watch: Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson reverted to the form that made him one of the nation's best runners last season in the Cowboys' regular-season finale, gashing Oklahoma for a season-best 90 rushing yards. OSU will need Robinson's passing skills against a leaky Oregon defense, but he'll also need to make some improvisational plays with his feet. That balance will be particularly important against an Oregon defense that ranks 80th nationally in total defense and 108th in pass defense.

What to watch: Oklahoma State's special teams made big plays all season, with Dez Bryant leading the Big 12 in punt returns (17.9 yards per return), Perish Cox pacing the conference in kick returns (30.1 yards per return) and Matt Fodge earning the Ray Guy Award as the nation's top punter. With Tuesday's game against Oregon figuring to be as close as it appears, a clear advantage in special teams could propel the Cowboys to the victory.

Why to watch: The Holiday Bowl has developed a national reputation for entertaining offensive battles and tonight's game should be no exception. Both teams are in the top eight nationally in rushing, total offense and scoring. So it wouldn't be a stretch to see both teams combine for 1,000 yards of total offense and maybe even 100 total points. OSU must cope with Oregon's explosive offense without defensive coordinator Tim Beckman, who left after the season for the Toledo head coaching job. Coach Mike Gundy has divvied up his responsibilities among the remaining defensive assistants and it will be interesting to see how they respond against a high-powered attack like the Ducks have. Their work could determine whether OSU claims its 10th triumph this season for the first time since 1988 and only the fourth time in the 108-season history of the program.