No. 14 Oklahoma State vs. Arizona
Wednesday, December 29, 2010 9:15 PM ET ESPN
Laying the scene
Oklahoma State and Arizona have not played in over 70 years, but that's about to change, as they will face each other in the Alamo Bowl and then in a home and away series beginning next year. For Arizona, they have already faced similar powerhouse offenses in Oregon and Stanford, but they have not seen a trio of players like quarterback Brandon Weeden, running back Kendall Hunter, and wide receiver Justin Blackmon. The Wildcats have the unenviable task of trying to stop the Oklahoma State offense, something many opposing defenses have had trouble doing. At the beginning of the season, Arizona's defense was in the top 10 in points allowed and yards allowed. In the last four games, the Wildcats allowed an average of 456 yards per game and 36 points per game, a complete turnaround. If the Wildcats can bring back the defense of old, then this game could be very interesting.
For Oklahoma State, don't even talk about defense, its all offense. Defense is not in their vocabulary. It's ok though when they have an offense that's one of the best in the nation. Their offense is basically run through three of their stars: their quarterback, wide receiver and running back. Quarterback Brandon Weeden has put up great numbers for the season; he's thrown for 336 yards per game with 32 touchdowns for the season. Part of Weeden's success has been his connection with wide receiver Justin Blackmon, his favorite target. Blackmon, Big 12 Player of the Year and Biletnikoff Award winner, leads the nation with 151.4 yards receiving per game. That's not it, there's also running back Kendall Hunter. He ranks seventh in the nation with 126.3 yards per game and 16 touchdowns this season. Oklahoma State should have no problems finding production out of one of these players, if not all.
What Arizona has to do to win
It's simple to say what Arizona needs to do to win, but it sure won't be easy to do it; the defense needs to step up. They cannot just focus on one of the players, as they will get burned by one of the other stars on the team. No other team has executed a game plan that could halt the Oklahoma State offense, but somehow, someway if the defense can play like they did at the beginning of the season, they could have a chance. On offense, they're going to need quarterback Nick Foles to be very productive. In his last three games, he has passed for 1,063 yards with nine touchdowns to one interception. If he can continue to produce the way he has for the past three games, then Arizona has a better chance of pulling off the upset. But once again, Arizona is going to have to halt the offensive attack of Oklahoma State.
What Oklahoma State has to do to win
Oklahoma State really hasn't had a problem all season on offense and not one team has been able to figure them out. They just need to continue to do what they've done all season, use their three best offensive weapons. On defense, however, they have had plenty of problems. In this game, Oklahoma State has to put constant pressure on quarterback Nick Foles. They will also have to contain his favorite target, wide receiver Juron Criner. These two could cause problems for this defense, so putting pressure on Folk could make it difficult to find Criner. They need to contain these two, or it could be a high scoring game.
The Oklahoma State offense is going to be too much for the Arizona defense to handle. They have too many weapons and too many athletes to focus on. Based on Arizona's last three games, it shouldn't be hard for this offense to produce. I could be wrong, though, as Arizona was among the best defenses in the nation in their first seven games. But hey, that's why they call it a prediction. I'm going with Oklahoma State for the win in a close and high scoring game. - Jared Levine
Jared is a Journalism and Sports Administration major at the University of Miami providing introspective, insight, information and opinion on the world of College Football.
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