Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. Arizona (7-5)
By David Ubben
Oklahoma State looked like the Big 12 favorite down the stretch, but lost to Bob Stoops and Oklahoma at home in the season finale, eventually landing in the Alamo Bowl instead of getting a shot at a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. In San Antonio, they've found another Stoops: Mike, and his Arizona team that lost its last four games.
WHO TO WATCH: Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon. He'll be the best player on the field every time he steps on it, and he'll have a chance to break an impressive record as well. In all 11 of his starts this season, he's finished with at least 100 yards receiving and a touchdown. If he does it against the Wildcats, he'll be the only player in FBS history to do it for 12 consecutive games. That's especially impressive considering the caliber of receivers who couldn't duplicate his feat: Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson and Michael Crabtree, to name a few. The Biletnikoff Award winner missed one game for the Cowboys, who managed just 24 points in a win against Kansas State. The Cowboys haven't been held under 33 points in any other game, and have scored 40-plus points in eight games, ranking third nationally in scoring offense.
WHAT TO WATCH: Oklahoma State's offense. Dana Holgorsen is headed to West Virginia after the bowl game to become the coach-in-waiting, but he's sticking around through the bowl game to fulfill his duties as offensive coordinator. I wouldn't expect any big differences out of the Cowboys, but it'll be interesting to see if the transition for Holgorsen has been a distraction that manifests on the field.
WHY WATCH: Similar to the Insight Bowl, despite the pair of disappointing finishes, these are still two teams who spent time near the top of the polls this season. Arizona was 7-1 to start the season and a mainstay in the top 15 before the losing streak sent it south in the polls. Oklahoma State was inside the top 10 at the end of the season. Outside of that, these are two of the most exciting offenses in the country. Both teams threw the ball just under 500 times this season, and figure to do plenty of it in the Alamodome on Wednesday night. Arizona's Nick Foles and Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden are two of the best around at doing it, and will get plenty of chances.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma State 37, Arizona 28. Arizona doesn't have anybody who can stop Blackmon (not that anyone else does), and the Cowboys' Big Three are too much for the Wildcats to keep up with.