Primetime College Football: Valero Alamo Bowl
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features Oklahoma State University Cowboys taking on the University of Arizona Wildcats in the 18th annual Alamo Bowl here in San Antonio, Texas.
Oklahoma State,10-2, 6-2 Big 12, finished in a three-way tie atop the Big 12 South and lost out in a chance to play in the Big 12 Championship by way of a tiebreaker through the BCS standings this season. The Cowboys controlled their own destiny heading into the season finale against their rival Oklahoma but came out with a 47-41 loss in Stillwater back in November.
The Cowboys had the nation’s No. 1 ranked offense this season, averaging an eye popping 537.6 ypg and had the country’s top-ranked passing offense as well. Big 12 Coach of the Year Mike Gundy saw his Cowboys set school records for points (539), total offensive yards (6,451), passing yards (4,256) and touchdown passes (34) in single season in 2010.
The center piece of the Cowboys offensive juggernaut is quarterback Brandon Weeden and 2010 Biletnikoff Award winner and unanimous All-American sophomore Justin Blackmon. Blackmon caught 102 passes for 1,665 yards and 18 touchdowns in just 11 games en route to being named the nation’s top wide receiver. The Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year also added a pair of scores with a 69-yard run and a blocked punt return and ranked first in the country in receiving ypg with 151.36. Blackmon tied the NCAA record with his 11th consecutive game of at least 100 receiving yards and a score in the Oklahoma game and needs only 8 yards to break Larry Fitzgerald’s NCAA record for receiving yards by a sophomore.
Weeden broke Oklahoma States single-season record for passing touchdowns with 32 and became the first Cowboy quarterback to pass for over 4,000 yards in a season with 4,037. He completed 67.4 percent of his passes but had 13 interceptions.
Not to be forgotten is running back Kendall Hunter, who rushed for 1,516 yards to lead the Big 12 and tied for the conference lead with 16 touchdowns this season. He averaged 5.8 ypc and 126.3 ypg on just 261 carries.
The Cowboys also have one more weapon in their aresenal as they have the 2010 Lou Groza Award winner, Dan Bailey, as the nation’s top placekicker, who was 24-for-28 on field goals this year including a pair of from 52 yards.
Arizona, 7-5, 4-5 Pac-10, is headed in the right direction under head coach Mike Stoops as they are making its third straight bowl appearance. The Wildcats got off to an impressive 7-1 start to the year before going on a four game lossing streak that started with a loss to Stanford. Arizona is also a high powered throwing offense as they ranked 9th in the nation with 310 ypg.
Arizona is led by its own 1-2 punch in quarterback Nick Foles and wide receiver Juron Criner. Foles completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 2,911 yards with 19 touchdowns with 7 interceptions in just 10 games this season. The bulk of the yardage was dished out to first-team All-Pac 10 selection and second-team All-American Criner, who totaled 1,186 yards and 10 touchdowns on 73 receptions while averaging 16.2 yards per reception. Criner’s yardage and reception totals were both tops in the Pac-10.
Fellow juniors David Douglas and David Roberts provide depth as secondary options in the Wildcats air attack. Douglas was second on the team with 46 catches for 424 yards with 5 touchdowns and Roberts finished second to Criner with 468 receiving yards with just a pair of touchdowns.
The Wildcats rushing game features a pair of capable backs in junior Keola Antolin and senior Nic Grigsby. While neither player stood out in terms of yardage, the two combined for 15 of the team’s 20 rushing touchdowns. Antolin led the team with 667 rushing yards and his 4.7 yards per carry, while Grigsby averaged an equally solid 4.6 yards per tote with 474 yards and 8 touchdowns.
This will be the first meeting between Oklahoma State and Arizona since 1942 with the all-time series split at 3-3. This is the first year the Alamo Bowl will feature both the Pac-10 and Big 12 Conferences as for the past 15 years, the game has seen the matchup of the Big 12 against Big Ten competition. This will also serve as a preview to a home-and-home series between the two schools starting in Stillwater next season.
PICK: University of Arizona Wildcats