Friday, December 31, 2010
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma (11-2) vs. Connecticut (8-4)
By David Ubben
This is projected to be one of the most lopsided matchups of the bowl season, but like we've already seen with Nebraska on Thursday, anything can happen in a bowl game between two teams with almost a month between games. Favorites, beware.
WHO TO WATCH: Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles. The Biletnikoff finalist was overshadowed in his own conference and even in his state by Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, but he's unquestionably one of the nation's best offensive talents. His clear chemistry with quarterback Landry Jones helps, too. His hands are extremely reliable, he runs some of the best routes you'll see anywhere, and for a receiver that isn't 6-feet tall, you'd be surprised at some of the balls he can haul in. He finished the regular season with a nation's best 118 receptions for 1,452 yards and 13 touchdowns. Get your looks in while you can; this might be the last game Broyles plays in an Oklahoma uniform. He's likely to head for the richer soils of the NFL after this season.
WHAT TO WATCH: Oklahoma's defense vs. Connecticut's running game. Oklahoma can do a lot of different things, but All-America running back Jordan Todman is the guy who gives Connecticut a chance. If he gets shut down, the Huskies simply won't be able to win. It's on the offensive line to get it done, but Todman can make plays, too. If Oklahoma's front seven can make plays and make it easy for the secondary to stay honest and not be forced to constantly come up in run support, Oklahoma should be in good shape to win convincingly.
WHY WATCH: There's no shortage of storylines. You have an inspiring program in Connecticut that's played at the FBS level for just over a decade and has overcome the tragic murder of a teammate last season to make it to a BCS game. They'll play the part of David to Oklahoma's BCS-skidding Goliath, one of college football's superpowers making its eighth appearance in a BCS game in 11 seasons. The Sooners are the heavy favorites, but they've been in this position before against West Virginia and Boise State. The Broncos took the Sooners to the wire in this very same stadium and produced one of college football's most unforgettable finishes.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma 41, Connecticut 20. The Huskies will be able to mush a little bit and catch the Sooners on some play-action from time to time, but Oklahoma's offense is too powerful and too fast for them to keep up for 60 minutes.