Oregon State 38, Boise State 23
Basically … Oregon State roared out to a 31-6 halftime lead and was up 38-6 in the third helped by two fumble recoveries for scores from corner Rashaad Reynolds from three and 70 yards out, a two-yard Brandin Cooks touchdown catch and two short scoring runs from Terron Ward and Storm Woods. Boise State made the score cosmetically interesting with 17 unanswered points highlighted by a 85-yard Matt Miller touchdown catch, but the Beavers were on cruise control.
- Sacks: Oregon State 5 – Boise State 0
- Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks caught eight passes for 60 yards and a score, and ran four times for 29 yards
- Oregon State QB Sean Mannion completed 24-of-33 passes for 259 yards and a score with a pick.
- Oregon State RB Storm Woods ran 16 times for 107 yards and a score.
- Oregon State CB Rashaad Reynolds made ten tackles broke up a pass and recovered two fumbles for touchdowns
- Boise State QB grant Hedrick completed 32-of-44 passes for 382 yards and a score.
- Boise state WR Matt Miller caught 11 passes for 206 yards and a score
Boise State (8-4) vs. Oregon State (6-6) Dec. 24, 8:00, ESPN
Here's The Deal … Chris Petersen will be nowhere to be found on Christmas Eve as the sun shines bright on Aloha Stadium. Yup, it's the end of a very successful era in Boise.
Coach Pete, now at Washington, has finally accepted an offer to leave Boise State after an incredible eight-year run that included 92 wins, five conference titles and a couple of memorable Fiesta Bowl appearances. Petersen will be replaced by former disciple Bryan Harsin, but assistant Bob Gregory will coach the team in the bowl game. It has not been a vintage campaign for the Broncos, who failed to win their division of the Mountain West, let alone vie for another BCS bowl berth. In fact, if Boise loses on Tuesday, it'll result in the program's worst season since 1998.
It's been a rather odd year in Corvallis. Oregon State opened with a loss to Eastern Washington of the FCS, won six straight to claw back into the Top 25 and then promptly lost five in a row to close out the regular season. Which Beaver team shows up in Honolulu? It's anyone's guess. Dinged up, both physically and emotionally, OSU is hoping to end the rollercoaster season on a high note, while avoiding carrying a nasty six-game losing streak into the offseason.
Players to Watch: It looks as if QB Sean Mannion will be returning to Corvallis for his senior year, which is great news for the Beavers. Now, he needs to turn to convincing Biletnikoff Award-winning WR Brandon Cooks to stay in school for one more year as well. Mannion-to-Cooks was virtually unstoppable in 2013, resulting in 120 connections for 1,670 yards and 15 touchdowns. The connection, though, will get a test from young CB Donte Deayon and the rest of a Boise State secondary that's allowed just one more touchdown pass than interception made.
Boise State's best offensive weapon is RB Jay Ajayi, especially since Oregon State is hurting at linebacker and struggling badly against the run. The Beavers are allowing more than five yards a carry, which is highest in the Pac-12. In his first year as a starter, Ajayi has erupted for 1,328 yards and 17 touchdowns on 226 carries. He'll be used freely to set up the passing of Grant Hedrick, who took over for the injured Joe Southwick on Oct. 19 and became increasingly comfortable as the season unfolded. With the Southwick controversy over the last few days, Ajayi will be even more important.
When Hedrick does drop back to throw, he'll have to be careful about his decisions. Pressure doesn't figure to be much of a problem unless DE Scott Crichton gets loose, but ball-hawking Beaver defensive backs will be a concern. Oregon State is second in the Pac-12 with 19 interceptions, including six apiece by cornerbacks Rashaad Reynolds and Steven Nelson. Both possess the size and athleticism to stick to the Bronco receivers. Nelson has been a gem in his debut out of College of the Sequoias (Calif.), earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 recognition.
The Broncos are hoping to put the heat of Mannion, who's not known his elusiveness or scrambling ability. The battle at the line of scrimmage looks like a draw at kickoff and could go a long way toward determining Tuesday night's winner. Oregon State is led by three seniors and a sophomore, Isaac Seumalo, who's one of the premier centers in the Pac-12. Boise State features a pair of First Team All-Mountain West performers, NT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe and DE Demarcus Lawrence. Lawrence has 10.5 sacks and three forced fumbles and is the kind of pass rusher who can neutralize Mannion's strong arm.
Boise State will win if … Ajayi is the game's best offensive player.
Yeah, Ajayi will have to be better than Cooks, which is a lot to ask. The back essentially needs to provide some cover for his defense, which has been up-and-down in 2013. A productive Ajayi means Hedrick can play within his means and Mannion remains off the field. Boise State has to control the clock and the tempo, especially in weather that'll test the team's depth. Ajayi is the catalyst of the Broncos, who might need to reach 30 points to win, so north of 150 yards on the ground could be required to outscore the Beavers.
Oregon State will win if … Mannion-to-Cooks becomes the headline of the night.
The pitch-and-catch combo is the one sure-thing out of the Beavers, and it'll have to deliver again on Tuesday. Oregon State can't count on the nation's 120th-ranked rushing attack or a D that's given up at least 30 points in each of the last four games. When opponents have thrown more touchdowns than picks in a game this season, Boise State is 0-4. Mannion and Cooks are capable of hoisting OSU on their shoulders and carrying it to the tape, which is likely what they'll be asked to do again next week versus the Boise State.
What Will Happen: All things being equal, take the team with the better quarterback and the more stability on the sideline.
Oregon State has Mannion and Mike Riley. Boise State has a backup quarterback and a linebackers coach filling the shoes of a legend. The Beavers are gassed and struggling. However, they almost upset Oregon at the end of the season, and 23 days of inactivity will serve them well. Cooks will outplay Ajayi, though both will post gaudy numbers. The receiver will make the clutch plays downfield to help snap the losing skid and prevent Oregon State's third losing season in the last four years.
Prediction: Oregon State 35 … Boise State 30
Line: Oregon State -3 o/u: 64
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