What does Arizona need to beat Oklahoma State in the Valero Alamo Bowl? Here are three keys.
1. Win the turnover battle: Oklahoma State lost two games this year, but it scored 41 points in those defeats. Only once did the Cowboys score fewer than 33 points. The Cowboys offense is going to score on Arizona. The Wildcats have the talent on defense to record a handful of stops, but their cause would certainly would be made easier if the Cowboys stopped themselves a few times. Oklahoma State, however, was good this season in terms of turnover margin, ending up plus-8, in large part because they forced a lot of turnovers (30). Arizona broke even on turnovers, giving away and gaining 18. If the Wildcats force a fumble or grab an interception, the offense needs to take advantage. And the offense also can't give anything away and make things easy for the Cowboys.
2. The Mighty Quinn is in: After 48 starts, Arizona's senior center Colin Baxter is sitting out due to knee surgery (he played with an injured knee over the final third of the season). Sophomore Kyle Quinn will make his first career start in his stead, and he needs to step up big. It's not just a matter of getting the ball snapped to quarterback Nick Foles. And it's not just about blocking the guy he's supposed to. Quinn is stepping in for a player who quarterbacked the Wildcats offensive line. Baxter has seen it all. He knows the correct calls to make. That now falls to Quinn. Count on the Cowboys trying to test Quinn with some unusual looks and stunts.
3. Foles gets 400: If Arizona gets the upset, count on Foles ending up with huge numbers -- say 400 yards and at least three or four touchdown passes -- and probably MVP honors. It just hard to imagine the Wildcats won't have to score a lot of points to win, and it's also hard to imagine they will be able to run the ball consistently after failing to do so much of the year. So that means Foles likely will throw a lot. If he's productive -- which means converting TDs in the redzone, not just piling up yards -- then the Wildcats can keep up with the high-powered Cowboys. If not, well, things might not go terribly well.