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2010 Alamo Bowl - Oklahoma St vs. Arizona
Arizona QB Nick Foles & OSU WR Justin Blackmon
Arizona QB Nick Foles & OSU WR Justin Blackmon
Posted Dec 28, 2010

It should be fun. The Oklahoma State offense hasn't been slowed down all year, but Nick Foles and Arizona have what it takes to keep up the pace. Expect a wild shootout in what should amount to be a must-win for the Pac 10 and a statement moment for the Big 12. Check out the CFN Preview & Prediction for the 2010 Alamo Bowl.

2010 Valero Alamo Bowl

Oklahoma St
(10-2) vs. Arizona (7-5)

Wednesday, December 29th, 9:15, ESPN  

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Pick ATS: Arizona   Confidence Score: 38
OVERALL CONFIDENCE (35 most - 1 least): 11 out of 35
SCROLL DOWN to the bottom for all the CFNers' confidence picks and bowl history

By Pete Fiutak

The Hawaii Bowl between Tulsa and Hawaii delivered on its promise to be a high-scoring, high-flying shootout. The Alamo Bowl, though, should be a wild and crazy, pinball-machine statistical battle and there should be some good football played. Along the way, Arizona has to turn its season around and has to uphold the honor of the Pac 10.

Because of USC’s probation and because Pac 10ers Cal, UCLA, Arizona State and Oregon State were mediocre and failed to get bowl eligible, there aren’t a lot of chances for the league to show what it can do. Future Pac 12er Utah got pantsed in the Last Vegas Bowl by Boise State, and Washington should have a rough time against Nebraska, but unless Stanford and Oregon can at least split in their respective bowl games, this could be a tough post-season. Arizona looked like a possible shining star early in the year, but then everything started to come apart.

Statistics In Yards
6,451 Total
4,954 Total
44.9 Scoring
27.8 Scoring
2,195 Rushing
1,648 Rushing
4,256 Passing
3,306 Passing
0.67 Turnover Margin 0.00
Position Rankings
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
4 QBs 4
4.5 RBs 3
5 WRs 4
4 O Line 3.5
3 D Line 4.5
3.5 LBs 3.5
2.5 DBs 4
4.5 STs 3
4 Coach 3
CFN 2010 2011 CFN Bowl Previews & Confidence Picks
- New Mexico - BYU vs. UTEP
- Human. - Fresno St vs. NIU
- New Orleans - Troy vs. Ohio
- St. Pete - UL vs. So Miss
- Las Vegas - Utah vs. Boise St
- Poinsettia - SDSU vs. Navy
- Hawaii - Tulsa vs. Hawaii
- Little Caesars - Toledo vs. FIU
- Ind. - Air Force vs. GT
- Champs - NC St vs. WVU
- Insight - Iowa vs. Mizz
- Military - Mary. vs. ECU
- Texas - Illinois vs. Baylor
- Alamo - Ok St vs. Arizona
- Armed Forces - SMU vs. Army
- Pinstripe - SU vs. KSU
- Music City - UNC vs. Tenn
- Holiday - Neb vs. Wash
- Meineke - USF vs. Clemson
- Sun - Miami vs. ND
- Liberty - UCF vs. Georgia
- Chick-fil-A - FSU vs. USC
- TicketCity - NW vs. TT
- Outback - PSU vs. Florida
- Capital One - MSU vs. Bama
- Gator - Mich vs. Miss St
- GoDaddy - MU vs. MT
- Cotton - A&M vs. LSU
- Compass - Pitt vs. UK
- Kraft - BC vs. Nevada
- Rose - UW vs. TCU
- Fiesta - OU vs. UConn
- Orange - Stan. vs. VT
- Sugar - Ark. vs. OSU
- BCS Champ. - Aub. vs. Oregon
The Wildcats showed off a high-flying offense and a tough, aggressive defense over the first half of the year with a slew of wins that looked great at the time. A 34-27 home win over Iowa put the season on the map, and a close battle against Cal, holding the Bears to nine points, seemed to make a statement. A 29-27 home loss to Oregon State wasn’t that bad considering how good the Beavers were expected to be, and the Cats got off to a fantastic 7-1 start with the meat of the Pac 10 slate still to play and with the Rose Bowl there for the taking.

And then … pffffffft.

Just when it was time for the team to step up its game and show that Arizona football had turned a corner, Stanford blasted away with a dominant 42-17 win, USC came up with an upset in Tucson, Oregon flexed its muscle, and Arizona State won a thriller for a four-game Wildcat losing streak and with no momentum whatsoever going into the post-season.

The offense is among the most effective in the nation with QB Nick Foles and the passing game something special, the defense has a good defensive front that’s solid against the run, and the motivation will be there after such an ugly finish to the season and an uglier loss to Nebraska to close out last year. The Wildcats were supposed to be a big deal at the end of 2009, but a 33-0 disaster of a Holiday Bowl loss to Nebraska ruined all the positives. But with such a dangerous offense, at the very least the team should show up and do its part in the expected wild battle.

Oklahoma State also knows all about disappointing finishes with four loses in the last six bowl games since 2003. Last year the Cowboys were a dud in the Cotton Bowl loss to Ole Miss, and they couldn’t keep up with Oregon in the 2008 Holiday Bowl, but this year’s team is well-equipped to simply outbomb the Wildcats. The team is well-equipped enough to outbomb almost anyone.

This isn’t expected to be the end of the offensive fun for the nation’s most explosive attack, but with offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen off to be the head man at West Virginia after this game, this might be the last time the offense works as well as it has throughout this season.

Devastating from the start, the Cowboys have put up yards and points in bunches with a whipping 6,451 yards of total offense while hanging 40 points or more on the board in eight games. Even in the losses, OSU went nuts offensively pushing around the supposedly impenetrable Nebraska defense for 41 points and handing another 41 up in a loss to Oklahoma. While the defense isn’t a brick wall, it’s good enough to get by and it’s good enough to do just what it needs to so the offense can control things. All Holgorsen’s offense needs is a little bit of a break and it’ll blast away.

Arguably the best season in decades, OSU had a chance to win the Big 12 South outright to play Nebraska in the last conference title game, but it lost to Oklahoma 47-41 and had to settle for an empty co-championship while watching the Sooners get by the Huskers. However, the Cowboys made huge strides in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year and a case could be made that they came up with the most surprising season of anyone in a BCS league.

Picked to finish fifth in the South by most, sixth by some, OSU came out roaring hanging 65 on Washington State, and the fun never stopped with a 24-14 win over Kansas State the only time the attack was held to under 33 points. Along the way, the Texas hex was broken with a dominant 33-16 win that wasn’t even quite that close, solid wins over Texas Tech and Texas A&M to be a major player in the division. While it would’ve been great to play in the Big 12 title game, there’s no real shame in the only two losses on the year coming to the championship game combatants.

Traditionally among the most competitive bowls of the season, the last five Alamo Bowls have been decided by seven points or fewer with the Big 12 winning four of the last five. However, Oklahoma State’s 33-7 loss to Ohio State in 2004 was the last time the game stunk. Don’t expect a repeat clunker with these two offenses, and don’t get comfortable if either team has a lead of any kind.

Players to Watch: There was some concern that Biletnikoff winner Justin Blackmon would be hobbling, but the team doctors have taken it extra careful with his banged up ankle and he’s expected to be more than fine. The Oklahoma State star was the first player in NCAA history to go over the 100-yard mark and score a touchdown in every game he played in, finishing the year with 102 catches for 1,665 yards and 18 scores. Unstoppable on the deep ball, the star recruit of a few years ago continually showed off the burst and the tracking ability to hit the home run from anywhere on the field. At 6-1 and 207 pounds he’s thick, tough, and isn’t afraid to go over the middle, but he’s at his best when he gets to exploit single coverage.

Arizona QB Nick Foles is an intriguing pro prospect, but he’s still a bit on the outside of the top names looking in. If he took off after this year he’d probably be a mid-round pick thanks to his size and his big, accurate arm, but he needs a little bit more on the résumé and he needs to come up with more big wins. His biggest games haven’t always translated to wins, hanging 440 yards and three touchdowns on Oregon State and 448 yards and three touchdowns against Oregon. Arizona lost both games, and while the ugly November stretch wasn’t his fault in any way, he’s the starting quarterback and his team lost in shootouts. In other words, he could have a monster game and Arizona could still lose.

Shockingly, OSU RB Kendall Hunter has flown under the radar a bit despite rushing for 1,516 yards and scoring 16 times. With most of the attention going to Blackmon, Hunter wasn’t even a thought in the Heisman chase despite going over 100 yards nine times including a 201-yard, two touchdown day in the loss to Nebraska. Healthy, he got back the burst he never had during an injury-plagued 2009, and he showed the ability to work inside and out as the perfect fit for the Holgorsen offense. He’s not going to be a workhorse, but he’ll get at least 20 carries.

Arizona will win if ... the Wildcat offense doesn’t stop. How did the Cowboys lose to Oklahoma and Nebraska? They were outbombed. Nebraska ran extremely well and got a huge passing day out of Taylor Martinez, who threw for323 yards and five touchdowns. Oklahoma didn’t get much from the running game, but Landry Jones threw 62 times, kept control of the game, and put up 468 yards and four scores. Big passing numbers don’t automatically translate into wins over OSU, Texas A&M’s Jerrod Johnson threw for 409 yards and five scores in a loss, but it’s a must to at least stay alive. The Wildcats aren’t just about Foles and the passing game, and they’re hardily easy to pin down. The offense likes to mix it up a bit with several quirky formations moving the receivers all around the field while also getting RB Keola Antolin involved when things are working like they’re supposed to. However, while Blackmon might be the top receiving star in the game, Arizona’s Juron Criner is a big-play target, too, and he needs to get involved early and has to come up with a big performance.

The Wildcat defense has to get away with cheating up to stop Hunter. The Oklahoma State pass protection has been terrific allowing a mere ten sacks, and while QB Brandon Weeden is a smart, tough passer, he needs time for the deep passes to work. The Wildcats will try to get away with cheating up the safeties to stop Hunter as long as they can, but that only works if the front four is hitting Weeden on a regular basis. Cat CB Robert Golden needs to come up with the game of his life on Blackmon. He can allow Blackmon to catch passes, but the deep plays have to be kept to a minimum.

Oklahoma State will win if ... the defensive front hits Foles early and often. The Cowboys aren’t great at getting to the quarterback on a regular basis, but it’ll come up with timely sacks. Discipline will be the key with all the funky things the Arizona offense wants to do, but above all else, if Foles is in a hurry, he won’t be effective. The OSU linebacking corps will be pushed on the short-to-midrange pass plays and they can’t fall for any tricks. As long as the defense is able to get into the backfield, the Arizona offense will stall just enough so the Cowboy offense can take control of the game.

Basically, the Oklahoma State offense has to be the Oklahoma State offense. No one has been able to shut down the attack cold, and Arizona, even with a solid defensive front, won’t be able to do it. The Wildcat secondary is beatable, and while all the focus will be on stopping Blackmon, Weeden is good enough to spread the ball around when he needs to, wait for the opening, and then hit his star with the backbreaker. With no mobility whatsoever, Weeden is a sitting duck and he has to feel the pass rush from Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed from the outside and has to be patient. The holes will be there and the yards can be had in chunks, but Weeden has to find them.

What will happen: Bombs away. Foles will get his 300+ yards and Arizona will never be out of it, but the firepower isn’t there, and the secondary is too iffy, to keep up the pace Oklahoma State will set. Holgorsen might be distracted with the duties of his new job, and the timing of the offense might not be quite right early on, but Hunter and the ground game will take care of that. Arizona isn’t going to get steamrolled over, and OSU isn’t going to put 50 on the board, but this will be a good, entertaining game that’ll be in doubt well into the fourth quarter.

CFN Prediction: Oklahoma State 38 … Arizona 30 ... Line: Oklahoma State -5.5
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Pick ATS: Arizona   Confidence Score: 38
OVERALL CONFIDENCE (35 most - 1 least): 11 out of 35

Pete Fiutak: Pick ATS - Oklahoma State  Pick Confidence - 31
- GET ... YOUR ... POPCORN ... READY. It'll be a dogfight between the Hawaii Bowl (Tulsa vs. Hawaii) and this for the honor of being the wildest shootout of the bowl season. Arizona might have hit the skids over the final month of the season, losing four straight, but the offense has been explosive throughout. The defense has been good, but it has to go against the nation's top offense. Expect 750 passing yards.

Richard Cirminiello: Pick ATS - Oklahoma State  Pick Confidence - 28
- Arizona will need to do a major about-face in order to beat this Oklahoma State team. The Cowboys have way too much offensive firepower for a Wildcat program that’s been sucking wind for more than a month.

Matt Zemek: Pick ATS - Arizona  Pick Confidence - 33
- Nick Foles throwing passes for Arizona. Justin Blackmon catching them for Oklahoma State. In a dome. Yes, this is another pass-happy game that will go down easy along with the holiday food you’ll consume during bowl season.

Russ Mitchell: Pick ATS - Arizona  Pick Confidence - 15
- Arizona was never the same after Nick Foles’ mid-season injury. OSU is going to roll in this one – go back and watch Arizona’s Holiday Bowl last year v. Nebraska for a taste of what’s to come.

Barrett Sallee: Pick ATS - Oklahoma State  Pick Confidence - 33
- Oklahoma State’s high-powered offense against Arizona’s defense? Ummm, yes please.

Gabe Harris: Pick ATS - Oklahoma State  Pick Confidence - 11
Brian Harbach: Pick ATS - Arizona  Pick Confidence - 13
Matthew Smith: Pick ATS - Arizona  Pick Confidence - 33
Billy Gomila: Pick ATS - Arizona  Pick Confidence -  24
Clucko (A coin flip): Pick ATS - Arizona   Pick Confidence -  23