Stanford (8-4) vs. Oklahoma (7-5)
Dec. 31, 2 p.m. (CBS)
Don’t be fooled by Oklahoma’s 7-5 record. This is an elite team, see its 27-0 whipping of Oklahoma State in the season-finale.
This should be another interesting strength-on-strength matchup, pitting Stanford’s power running attack with Toby Gerhart vs. Oklahoma’s outstanding run defense, which ranks seventh in the nation.
Stanford will have to be particularly wary of end Jeremy Beal and tackle Gerald McCoy. Those two have combined for 32.5 tackles for a loss and 16 sacks.
Balance will be the key for Stanford. Quarterback Andrew Luck can’t let the Sooners gang up on Gerhart.
The Sooners have been inconsistent on offense, but Stanford has been uneven on defense. Quarterback Landry Jones, after a slow start, has flashed potential and the Sooners offensive line features All-American Trent Williams. They average 31 points and 419 yards per game, so Oklahoma probably will expect to move the ball on a defense that gives up 26 points and 397 yards per game.
There’s another sidenote: Desire.
Stanford will be thrilled to play in the Sun Bowl. It hasn’t played in a bowl game since 2001. Oklahoma? Hard to say. The Sooners are accustomed to BCS bowls -- they played Florida for the national title last year -- so they might not be thrilled by a trip to the Sun Bowl. Or maybe they will want to make a statement for next year.