The 2008 Sun Bowl
(No. 24) Oregon State Beavers Vs. (No. 18) Pittsburgh Panthers
2 pm EST
El Paso, Texas
Spread: OSU -2.5
How they got here...
Oregon State (8-4, 7-2) finished second in the Pac-10 behind a team they beat, the USC Trojans. OSU bounced back from two straight losses to start the season with six straight conference wins (including their win against USC). However, the Beavers finished their season on a sour note, losing to in-state rival Oregon. The loss cost the Beavers a trip to the Rose Bowl.
The Pitt Panthers (9-3, 5-2) finished tied for second in the Big East. After stumbling in the first game of the year in a loss to Bowling Green, the Panthers bounced back with five straight wins. The Panthers finished strong with wins over rival West Virginia (19-15) and UConn (34-10).
OSU is led by freshman sensation Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers led the way in the Beavers' stunning upset over USC with 186 yards rushing and two scores. OSU will need a healthy Rodgers if they are to win this one. A shoulder injury caused Rodgers to miss the season-ending loss to Oregon. He expects to play on Wednesday.
Pitt is also led by a sensational running back. LeSean McCoy led the team with 1,403 yards rushing, along with 21 TDs. McCoy has been compared to Panther great Tony Dorsett. McCoy has certainly been up to the challenge to this point.
OSU wins if...
Jacquizz Rodgers comes back and does his thing. If Rodgers is on the field, he will give the Beavers a big-time weapon.
Beaver QB Lyle Moevao is not normally asked to win the game. If he can settle in with Rodgers picking up big yardage, look for Moevao to throw to his veteran WR, Sammie Stroughter (64 catches for 952 yards, and seven TDs), to balance out the offensive attack.
The OSU defensive line can slow down LeSean McCoy, and get some pressure on Panther QB Bill Stull.
Pitt wins if...
LeSean McCoy does his thing. See a trend here? This came may come down to which big time running back has the best game.
The Panthers will also look to QB Bill Stull to continue his solid play. Stull will look to his top WR targets, Derek Kinder and freshman Jonathan Baldwin.
OSU's return game could be big in this one. Sammie Stroughter has come up big on several occasions this season with big punt returns. A big return in this game could turn the tide.
Pitt placekicker Conor Lee has been solid. If the game comes down to an extra point, the Panthers are the pick. Lee has made 113 straight extra points.
Hope you didn't listen to me when I picked Boise State over TCU...but I wasn't the only one who missed that one. This one could really be a great game. If Rodgers and McCoy bring their "A" games, we could see some great runs in this game. Either way, I look for this one to be close.
Pitt finished the season strong, while the Beavers stumbled without Rodgers. Although Rodgers may be back, I don't think it will be enough.
My pick: Pitt Panthers
Here's how some other "experts" on b/r see this one:
Trey Bradley: OSU
Michael Cline: OSU
Justin Goar: Pitt
Miami Mitch: Pitt
Lisa Horne: OSU
Brian Scott: OSU
David Wunderlich: OSU