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Monday, December 8, 2008
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl: Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. Oregon (9-3)


Dec. 30, 8 p.m., (ESPN)

Oklahoma State take by Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin: For followers of offensive fireworks, this might be one of the most intriguing bowls all season.

Both teams rank among the top eight in total offense and scoring, and among the top seven teams nationally in rushing. Oklahoma State's high-powered attack rang up at least 55 points on five different occasions. And Oregon scored at least 54 points five times this season and scored 120 points in its last two games,

The balanced Cowboys will be making their first trip to San Diego since Mike Gundy led his team there as a quarterback in 1988. Kendall Hunter led the Big 12 in rushing, and playmaking wide receiver Dez Bryant ranked third in receiving yards and third in punt returns.

But a struggling Oklahoma State defense that allowed 134 points in its last three games will be tested by a productive Oregon offense keyed by productive running backs Jeremiah Johnson (219 yards in the season finale against Oregon State) and LeGarrette Blount, who needs only 72 yards to eclipse 1,000 yards for the season. Oklahoma State is very strong in the trenches offensively, but will be supremely test by Oregon defensive end Nick Reed, who ranked second nationally in sacks and tied for fourth in tackles for losses.

This game could hinge on special teams and Oklahoma State might have an edge there with punter Matt Fodge and kick returner Perrish Cox in featured roles.


Oregon take by Pac-10 blogger Ted Miller: A matchup between ranked -- and similar -- teams that should feature a lot of points.

Oregon ranks seventh in the nation in scoring (41.92) and Oklahoma State ranks eighth (41.58). The Ducks rank fourth in rushing (278 ypg); the Cowboys, seventh (256).

How about stopping the other? The Ducks are 24th vs. the run (119 ypg); the Cowboys are 27th (124). Oregon ranks 78th in scoring defense (28 ppg); the Cowboys rank 70th (27 ppg).

If there is a major difference between the teams, it's that Oklahoma State is a much more consistent passing team, with quarterback Zac Robinson ranking fourth in the nation in pass efficiency while throwing to the extremely dangerous Dez Bryant, who's hauled in 74 passes for 1,313 yards and 18 touchdowns this season.

Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli threw for 572 yards and five touchdowns in the final two games of the season, but he was inconsistent passing much of the year.

This is perhaps the most important bowl for the Pac-10 in terms of perception. If the Ducks manage to win, the maligned conference would prove that it's not just USC and nine dwarfs.