NCF Nation: Sun 0831

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

 
  AP Photo/LM Otero
  Oregon State's Slade Norris celebrates with his teammates after the Beavers defeated Pittsburgh, 3-0, in the Sun Bowl.

Anybody want to help me out with a scoring summary for Oregon State's win over Pittsburgh in the Brut Sun Bowl?

The best offense in this one, a 3-zip Beavers victory, was the 10 sacks split between the teams.

Make no mistake, though: No. 24 Oregon State (9-4) was way better -- WAY -- better than 18th-ranked Pittsburgh (9-4).

The Beavers, playing without Jacquizz and James Rodgers, who supplied more than 50 percent of their offense this year, outgained the Panthers 271 yards to 178 and got zero points on a pair of first-and-goal situations.

Pittsburgh's deepest penetration was the Beavers 36-yard line.

While the Beavers offense struggled to find a consistent rhythm, coordinator Mark Banker's defense, led by ends Slade Norris and Victor Butler, redeemed itself for the Civil War debacle.

The same unit that gave up 65 points and 694 yards to Oregon, surrendered just 10 first downs to the Panthers. It held touted Pitt tailback LeSean McCoy to 84 yards on 23 carries.

Mike Riley improved to 5-0 in bowl games as the Beavers coach.

The Pac-10 also improved to 4-0 this bowl season with three victories over ranked teams and victories over three different BCS conferences.

The rest of the college football nation is free to draw its own conclusions.

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
 
  AP Photo/LM Otero
  Pittsburgh quarterback Bill Stull is sacked by Oregon State's Casey Noack (50) and Victor Butler (90) during the first half of the Sun Bowl. Stull was sacked six times in the loss.

Pittsburgh had hoped to use the Brut Sun Bowl as a springboard into big things next year, possibly even a preseason top 10 ranking.

What the Panthers ought to do now is find every available tape of the game and burn it, then hope no one remembers what happened.

In what has to be hands-down the worst bowl game of the year, Pitt lost 3-0 to Oregon State. Instead of building momentum, all Dave Wannstedt's team did was raise more doubts among fans whether this program can take the next step. Here's the answer: Without better quarterback play, it can't.

It's not fair to pin all the blame on quarterback Bill Stull. He was running for his life most plays, got knocked down a ton and even hurt his wrist. The biggest factor was that Pitt played without left tackle Jason Pinkston, who had a shoulder injury. Oregon State's defensive line absolutely decimated the Pittsburgh offensive front, which had been a strength of the team most of the season.Then there was a snapping wind that made throwing long patterns difficult, if not impossible, for both teams.

Still, Stull had been very shaky down the stretch this season, and he didn't have a strong enough arm to combat the wind. Why offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh didn't call more short passes or over-the-middle routes is a mystery to me. The long fades to Jonathan Baldwin had no chance of working.

The ugly numbers: Stull was 7-of-24 for 54 yards and an interception before Pat Bostick played the final four minutes. With no passing game, the Beavers loaded up against LeSean McCoy, who finished with 83 yards on 23 carries.

Pitt's only chance to score came on a late fourth-quarter field goal try by Connor Lee from 58 yards. Oregon State's score came on a 44-yarder late in the first half. Bostick was sacked near midfield to end the game.

On the plus side, Pittsburgh's defense played great and lived up to Rashaad Duncan's pregame boasts. But it had no help whatsoever.

Wannstedt can only hope recruits didn't see this game. Of course, not too many could have wanted to watch it from start to finish.

There goes the Big East's 3-0 record. The Pac-10 is now 4-0.

Brut Sun Bowl preview

December, 31, 2008
12/31/08
11:04
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

A brief primer on today's Brut Sun Bowl:

What to watch: Pittsburgh nose tackle Rashaad Duncan boasted that his team's defensive line is better than anything Oregon State has faced all season. We'll see. The Beavers' offensive line allowed only 16 sacks all season despite passing more than 400 times. If quarterback Lyle Moevao has time to pick on the suspect Pitt secondary, that could be bad news for the Panthers. Watch how Pittsburgh tries to get pressure from its ends and star linebacker Scott McKillop.

Who to watch: Pittsburgh running back LeSean McCoy is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Oregon State will be loaded up to stop the sophomore, but Pitt's offensive line has done a good job all season of creating just enough space for McCoy to do his thing.

Why to watch: This could have been a marquee running back matchup between McCoy and Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers, who's injured and not expected to play. Still, it's an intriguing game between two high-scoring, young teams with lots of athletes. It's the perfect way to start your New Year's Eve party.

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Oregon State tries to bounce back after its dispiriting Civil War loss to Oregon but will be without the services of the Rodgers brothers, James and Jacquizz.

Who to watch: Oregon State quarterback Lyle Moevao

The absence of the Rodgers brothers due to shoulder injuries means 50 percent of the Beavers' offense is on the sidelines. Who will pick up that slack? Well, that process will start with Moevao, who became the consistent leader of the offense this season. It figures he'll have to throw more without Jacquizz and James providing the punch and slash to the rushing attack.

What to watch: Oregon State's front seven vs. Pitt RB LeSean McCoy

McCoy is the Panthers offense. The Big East Offensive Player of the Year rushed for 1,403 yards and caught 31 passes for 299 yards. Stop him and you stop the Panthers. Of course, the Beavers' defense may have lost its mojo after Oregon rolled up 65 points and 694 yards in the Civil War. Will this game give the Beavers redemption?

Why to watch: While the Rodgers brothers returning to Texas and Jacquizz going head-to-head with McCoy didn't work out as Sun Bowl angles, this still figures to be an interesting matchup. For one, will the Oregon State team that won eight of nine before the Civil War show up, or will it be the one that got stomped by Oregon? Also, it's another opportunity for the Pac-10 to redeem itself after a perceived down season. Beating the nation's No. 18 team would look good on the ledger.

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