Oregon State Football: 4 Players Beavers Must Lean on in Alamo Bowl
The Oregon State football team has gotten this far this season by working as a team. They have their standouts, but at the end of the day everyone has contributed to the big wins.
The Alamo Bowl will be no different. And this is a game the Beavers must win to regain respect in the Pac-12—it's the team's first bowl game since 2009, and comes against a storied opponent in Texas.
Here are four players who will need to contribute big for an OSU win.
A catalyst for Oregon State's passing attack, the Beavers will need wideout Markus Wheaton at full strength for his final game in orange and black.
Wheaton, a senior, will be moving on to the NFL this spring. But before that he has one more shot to prove his worth as a Beaver.
Not that he really needs to prove anything.
Wheaton has 88 catches, 1,323 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns in 2012—all three lead Oregon State. Wheaton also made his 224 catch this season, which is a University record.
Texas' defense struggled at times this season, but the secondary was its saving grace. The Longhorns allowed 213.5 passing yards per game which ranks 36th in the FBS.
OSU can do damage with the run, but its bread-and-butter remains the pass. As always the Beavers will need Markus Wheaton to lead its offense.
The passing game is an obvious strength of the Beavers, but they need the run game to work as well.
To put up points against Texas, Oregon State will need a balanced approach.
Red shirt freshman Storm Woods has been solid this season for Oregon State. But endurance has been an issue, and the physical Texas defense could ware him down real fast.
That's where Terron Ward comes in.
When he's gotten a solid amount of carries Ward has been a beast. He had 146 yards against Arizona State—averaging 7.7 yards per carry—and 128 against Cal—averaging 9.1 yards per carry.
The combination of Woods and Ward gives OSU a tough tandem to beat in the backfield, but it only works if Ward runs hard and carries his share of the load.
Like Oregon State, Texas leans on its passing game. The Longhorns rank 39th in the FBS with 265 passing yards per game.
But quarterback David Ash has been incredibly inconsistent this season. In his 11 games he failed to pass for 200 yards in four of them—including a season low 63 against Kansas.
Ash also has three multi-interception games this season, and seven total.
Senior cornerback Jordan Poyer is the Beavers best lock-down defender—meaning the guy playing opposite him has to be just as good.
Rashaad Reynolds is having a fantastic junior season posting 70 tackles (ranking 2nd amongst Beavers), 16 passes defended (1st) and three interceptions (2nd).
If the Beavers are to keep David Ash in check, it'll be up to Reynolds to solidify the Oregon State secondary.
Scott Crichton gets all the attention on Oregon State's defensive line, but teammate Dylan Wynn is just as dangerous—and just as explosive.
The Longhorns will be ready for Crichton—though it usually doesn't matter—but chances are they're not quite ready for Wynn.
The sophomore is having a solid campaign, notching 48 tackles (two for loss) and one sack on the season. His primary job is to disrupt the opposing offensive line and take blockers off Crichton.
Together Wynn and Crichton make not only a tough pass rush, but the core of OSU's stifling run defense.
Oregon State's 130.5 rushing yards allowed per game is 28th in the FBS, while Texas' 176 rushing yards per game is 48th.
If the Beavers are to win this one defensively they need to make Texas one-dimensional. The best way to do that is trust their overwhelming rushing defense. That's what makes Wynn so essential.