Alamo Bowl – No. 14 Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2 SU 9-3 ATS) vs. Arizona Wildcats (7-5 SU 6-6 ATS) Alamodome San Antonio, TX 9:15 PM ET, December 29, 2010 on ESPN / ESPN3
by Jason Green, College Football Bowl Handicapper, Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Oklahoma St. -5.5/AZ +5.5
Over/Under Total: 66
The Oklahoma State Cowboys are looking for their first ever 11 win season and they will likely get there if the Arizona Wildcats plays like they did at the end of the season. The Wildcats were sitting as the 15th ranked team in the nation at 7-1, but then they lost their last 4 games of the season giving up 36 points per game in that span. If their defense struggles again this game may get ugly, as the Cowboys are the nation’s 3rd highest scoring team and they have the 2nd ranked passing offense.
OSU had a chance to play in their first BCS bowl game, but they lost to Oklahoma in their last game of the season, which cost them a spot in the Big 12 title game.
In their last games of the season Arizona lost to in-state rival Arizona State 30-29 and OSU also lost to in-state rival Oklahoma 47-41.
The Wildcats will have to play defense like they did before they lost their last 4 games when they had their defense ranked in the top 10 in both points allowed and yards allowed. That will not happen against an OSU offense that led the nation racking up an average of 537.6 yards per game.
The Cowboys have a dynamic trio of QB Brandon Weeden, WR Justin Blackmon, and RB Kendall Hunter. These guys put up sick numbers this season and Blackmon and Hunter were first team All Americans and Weeden was first team All Big 12. Weeden finished the season with the 2nd most passing yards per game (336.4) and 5th in TD (32) and Blackmon has 11-straight 100 yards receiving games with 18 TD on the season.
The Wildcats’ pass defense will have their hands full and they rank 42nd in the nation that gave up 266 passing yards in their last game. They have an athletic secondary, but Weeden will still have a huge game and Blackmon will have his 12th straight 100-yard game. Even if the wildcats shut Blackmon down, which they will not do, the WR duo of Josh Cooper, Bo Bowling, and RB Joseph Randle combined for 135 catches this season.
The Wildcats can’t just try to stop the pass, as OSU RB Kendall Hunter ranked 7th in the nation averaging 126.3 rushing yards per game and ran for 16 TD. Arizona has the nation’s 39th ranked rushing defense, but in their last 4 games they gave up an average of 233.25 rushing yards per game. With Arizona mainly trying to stop the pass Hunter will have another big game and put up some great numbers against a struggling Arizona run defense.
The one chance that the Wildcats have in this game is getting into a big-time shootout. That is a possibility since the Arizona passing offense ranks 9th in the nation and the OSU pass defense only ranks 115th out of 120 FBS teams. Arizona QB Nick Foles did his part this season and he led the Pac 10 in passing yards per game (291.1) and even though the Wildcats lost their last 3 games Foles passed for 1,063 yards with 9 TD and only 1 pick. His main target is WR Juron Criner, who was a first team All Pac 10 selection and led the conference with 73 receptions and 1,186 yards with 10 TD.
RB Keola Antolin led the Wildcats in rushing yards this season, but he failed to average 4 yards per carry in his last 3 games. While OSU is weak at defending the pass they are decent defending the run ranking 41st in the nation. Foles will have a good game, but he will get no help from the rushing attack.
Oklahoma State only played one great defensive team this season in Nebraska and even though they lost they still scored 41 points.
Arizona is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a S.U. loss and Oklahoma State 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after scoring more than 40 points in their last game.
With each team’s offense take the Over in this game and the betting trends point to that pick, as OSU has an Over record of 8-3 in their s last 11 games as a favorite and Arizona has an Over record of 5-1 in their last 6 games.
Jason’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The public is hammering Okie St. to the tune of 75%, yet the line has moved down to +4.5 and you can even find +4 at some sportsbooks. This is one of those games where you throw the stats out and look at the matchup, which is not a great one for Okl. St. Take Arizona to cover the spread and put some lunch money on them on the moneyline as well.