It’s the bowl game for all the cheesy cologne 1988 can wear.
The “Brut” Sun Bowl, from glorious El Paso, Texas, will be waged not in the trenches, nor via the airways, but rather in the nostrils. Oregon State and Missouri will travel south to the reputedly warm but actual quite tundra-like border town, where cheerleaders will be outfitted with BreatheRight strips, scented candles will replace end zone pylons, and Keith Jackson will alight on the artificial playing surface via parachute, wearing a suit that makes him look less like a Baby New Year, and more like a giant nose. He’ll also be carrying advance-copy DVDs of the new DreamWorks feature Perfume, which will be handed out to the most interesting-smelling patrons of the ball game.
Oregon State and Missouri. Yes, it’s always a classic when these two schools get together. Wait. What’s that? The only other time these two schools have gotten together was 1956, when the Beavers beat the Tigers 19-16, and there was very little olfactory magic involved? Well, it’s never too late for a huge intersectional rivalry between the Big 12 and the Pac-10 to begin percolating, right?
Granted, the Sun Bowl doesn’t exactly tantalize the tongue (or nose) with national intrigue. Joe Six-Pack probably couldn’t name a single player on either one of these teams. But this is a bowl game that’s been played every year since 1935, and has the longest continuing relationship with a single television network, as the game’s been aired by CBS since 1968. And the truth is, El Paso almost always sees a good game, and often a very high-scoring one. Over the last eight years, the average score of the Sun Bowl has been 31-25, with a couple of one-point wins in there to boot. The brisk El Paso air evidently brings out the powerhouse in offenses; UCLA racked up 50 on Northwestern last year (while the Wildcats scored 38), and Washington State, Minnesota and Purdue have all eclipsed the 30-point mark here within the last five Sun Bowls.
Oregon State isn’t shy when it comes to scoring. They’ve registered 30-plus points in five of their last six games, including a 33-31 win over USC, a 30-28 win against Oregon, and a 35-32 thriller at high-octane Hawaii. After beginning the year 2-3, the Beavers have won seven of their last eight games, and have covered in six of their last eight. Yvenson Bernard, a 5-foot-8 tailback in the Jerome Harrison mold, has been one of the big surprises of the Pac-10 over the past two years, rushing for over 1,200 yards and 12 scores in ’06 after amassing 1,321 yards in his sophomore campaign last year. QB Matt Moore has thrown eight touchdowns and zero interceptions since Oregon แทงบอลออนไลน์ State’s October 28th upset of then-#3 USC, a span of six games.
On the other sideline, Missouri started the year 6-0 and was a cause célèbre on the national scene, paradoxically excelling a year after all-everything QB Brad Smith left the Tigers. Unfortunately, that great start came against Murray State, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, Colorado and Texas Tech, none of whom were particularly terrific (Ohio was good this year, but good in terms of the MAC). When the relative iron of Mizzou’s schedule came, the team lost four of six, including a dispiriting five-point loss to Iowa State. Coach Gary Pinkel was recently rewarded with a five-year contract extension, despite the fact that he’s been the butt of some national speculation the past couple of years, about how Smith turned sour once Pinkel came on board. This year, though, Pinkel helped QB Chase Daniel become what Smith never was: a consistent thrower, to the tune of 26 TD passes and 10 picks. The high-octane Missouri offense averages the 12th-most yards-per-game in the nation, and Daniel boasted the 10th-most passing yards of any quarterback in Division I-A. In that regard, Oregon State could be a decent match-up for Daniel and Missouri. The Beavers only rated 80th nationally against the pass, giving up a lot of long pass plays. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ secondary would appear to be a better test for Oregon State’s passing attack: they were 19th in the nation in terms of passing yards allowed per game.
What interests me in this contest, though, is the big-play nature of the Beavers’ D. They intercepted 17 opposing passes this year, making the Oregon St. secondary a truly boom-or-bust affair. They also tied nationally for the most turnovers created overall, with 31. The truth is that Chase Daniel has been prone to the big pick this year, and has struggled each time Mizzou has lost. While I do think the Tigers have a chance to rack up some big plays, I also think the Beavers have a chance to score on defense.
Really, a game like this could go one of two ways. The much hotter team, Oregon State, can come out flat, while the team that sagged in the second half of the regular season, Missouri, can come out smoking. We’ve all seen that happen a bunch of times. Something tells me, though, that OSU coach Mike Riley, in his second term with the Beavers after (among other stops) a stint as the head man with the San Diego Chargers, will be able to keep his guys high, and help this game go the other way: an extension of the Beavers’ scintillating finish. Could Moore get shut down by what’s been a pretty statistically good Missouri secondary, which hasn’t allowed a lot of big plays this year? Yes. Could Daniel catch fire and rack up a ton of offense on what’s been a break-but-don’t-bend Oregon State pass defense? Yep. But to me, finishing third in the Pac-10 is a heck of a lot more impressive than finishing second in the Big 12 North (and going 4-4 in that conference overall). I like the big-play Beavers in this one, so I’m taking Oregon State (-3) over Missouri.