Hawaii Bowl preview: Boise State vs. Oregon State
Boise State (8-4, 6-2 MWC) vs. Oregon State (6-6, 4-5 Pac-12)
December 24, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Boise State Players to Watch:
Jay Ajayi, RB—Boise State has a potent ground game behind the legs of Jay Ajayi. The 6-foot, 215-pound sophomore has 1,328 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, averaging 5.9 yards per carry.
Demarcus Lawrence, DE—Lawrence is a force off the edge, combining for 67 tackles (19.5 for loss) and 10.5 sacks this season.
Oregon State Players to Watch:
Sean Mannion, QB—Mannion is the engineer to Oregon State’s offense, throwing for over 4,400 yards and 36 touchdowns this season for a pass attack that ranks 19th in the country.
Brandin Cooks, WR—Cooks won the Biletnikoff Award after catching 120 balls (71 more than any other Beaver receiver) for 1,670 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Boise State Key to Victory:
Control the line of scrimmage. Boise State needs to come out with a chip on its shoulder on both sides of the ball following coach Chris Petersen’s departure, and that starts up front. Oregon State hasn’t been able to stop anybody all year, so if the Broncos can come out with a balanced attack and establish a running game early, chances are they’ll be right there in the fourth quarter. Boise has trailed at the half in all four of its losses.
Oregon State Key to Victory:
Smart decision-making from Sean Mannion. He has thrown 11 interceptions over Oregon State’s final four games of the regular season, and all were losses. Boise State is the type of team that will take advantage of turnovers and good field position, all while sucking the clock dry. When Mannion is good, he’s really good—he threw 26 touchdowns to just two picks during games in which the Beavers won.
Line: Oregon State (-3)
Prediction: I am concerned that the post-Petersen hangover will be in full effect and that Boise State won’t be able to keep up with Oregon State’s passing game. Let’s not forget that the Broncos were ripped by a very similar system earlier in the year when Fresno State’s Derek Carr threw up 460 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Oregon State 30, Boise State 28
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