2006 Brut Sun Bowl - Oregon St vs. Missouri

Posted Dec 14, 2006

2006 Brut Sun Bowl Preview and Prediction - Oregon State vs. Missouri

Oregon State (9-4) vs. Missouri (8-4)

Dec. 29th, 2:00 p.m. ET, CBS

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Sun Bowl Player Profile: Oregon State WR Sammie Stroughter, history & more

Year in and year out, what bowl comes through with better and more consistent games than any other?

The Rose? Yeah, it's been pretty good. The Holiday? Close.

For some reason, the Sun never fails to deliver with the above-average Pac 10 team, a staple of the game since 1990, going against another good, big-league team (with the exception of 1998 when TCU beat USC) usually played on a weekday afternoon. The combination has seemed to work with with seven straight thrillers with plenty of offense and last second heroics. This year's battle, with a Big 12 team playing for the first time since Texas in 1994, should be no different.

National Rankings
Oregon State Missouri
Total Offense
50th  353.15 ypg 12th  414.33 ypg
Total Defense
42nd  316.38 ypg 35th  308.83 ypg
Scoring Offense
44th  26.92 ppg 25th  29.42 ppg
Scoring Defense
49th  21 ppg 27th  17.92 ppg
Run Offense
83rd  119.54 ypg 49th  145.08 ypg
Run Defense
19th  103.08 ypg 61st  137.33 ypg
Pass Offense
29th  233.62 ypg 11th  269.25 ypg
Pass Defense
80th  213.31 ypg 19th  171.50 ypg
Turnover Margin
24th  0.62 48th  0.17
Oregon State
E. Wash. W 52-17
at Boise St L 42-14
W 38-0
California L 41-13
Wash St
L 13-6
at Wash. W 27-17
at Arizona W 17-10
USC W 33-31
Arizona St
W 44-10
at UCLA L 25-7
at Stanford W 30-7
W 30-28
at Hawaii W 35-32
Murray State W 47-7
Ole Miss W 34-7
at N. Mexico W 27-17
Ohio W 31-6
Colorado W 28-13
at Tex Tech W 38-21
at Tex A&M L 25-19
Kansas St
W 41-21
Oklahoma L 26-10
at Nebraska L 34-20
at Iowa State L 21-16
W 42-17
Position Ratings
relative to each other
OSU 5 highest
1 lowest
4 Quarterbacks 4
4 RBs 3.5
4 Receivers 4
4 O Line 4.5
3.5 D Line 3.5
4 Linebackers 4
3.5 Secondary 3
4.5 Spec Teams 2.5
4 Coaching 4

Oregon State ended the year as one of the nation's hottest teams with a shot at its second ten-win season in school history, while Missouri is still looking for respect after struggling against most of the good teams it played.

The Tigers started off the season as one of the under-the-radar programs with a 6-0 start highlighted by wins over Colorado and Texas Tech, got steamrolled over by Texas A&M, and lost four of five games bottoming out with a 21-16 clunker against Iowa State.

Missouri rode an Independence Bowl win over South Carolina into a promising off-season; a victory over Oregon State would do the same. This is hardly an established program under head coach Gary Pinkel, seemingly on the verge of exploding one way or another over the next few years. It hasn't quite turned a corner despite being more competitive, and it's still looking for that one big win that'll get everyone to pay attention. The more wins over name teams, the better.

Oregon State has always had to overcome the second-tier status among Pac 10ers, but this became one of the better teams no one outside Oregon seemed to notice. Appearing on the road to nowhere after losing three games in a key early four-game stretch, the Beavers went nuts winning seven of their last eight only getting dropped by UCLA.

How strange was this Beaver season? There was the highest of highs knocking off USC in a 33-31 thriller which, at the time, appeared to end the Trojans' hope for the national title, and there was the biggest of national embarrassments getting ripped apart by Ian Johnson and Boise State in a 42-14 nationally televised loss. 

OSU has a good balance with RB Yvenson Bernard and WR Sammie Stroughter two of the Pac 10's better skill players, while the defense has been just good enough when it's had to be throughout the second half of the year. However, it's not a strong enough D to shut down Missouri cold.

When the Tigers are on, everything seems to click with a good mix of offense and, at times, one of the Big 12's better defenses. The loss of all-star-to-be Brian Smith signaled a turn midway through the year for the defense, while the offense went from explosive to too reliant on QB Chase Daniel. It has the firepower to match OSU shot for shot and surprise with one of the higher scoring games of the bowl season.

The Big 12 wants more respect, and Oregon State wants to be noticed. One of the two will happen.

Players to watch: Is this the same Matt Moore who was handing out interceptions like they were M&Ms?
The former UCLA transfer had an odd first season throwing 19 interceptions and only 11 touchdown passes, and then started off 2005 with six picks in his first seven games. And then a funny thing happened ... he became nearly perfect. His accuracy improved, he appeared more comfortable, and he didn't throw an interception over the final six games. In other words, the light turned on.

Helping Moore's transformation has been the Pac 10's best receiver who doesn't play for USC, junior Sammie Stroughter. With superior speed and and moves, he's too much for a corner to handle for a full sixty minutes without consistent safety help on the deep passes. As Hawaii found out, getting hit for an 80-yard touchdown, even double teaming doesn't always work. Consistent and explosive, he's a home run waiting to happen as both a receiver and a punt returner.

Missouri's offense ideally works around the running game, but it always ends up living and dying around the passing attack. Leading receiver Will Franklin was knocked out for the year with a tear in his shoulder, but it's not like the offense was lacking for targets with the best tight end tandem in America in Chase Coffman and Martin Rucker

Coffman was more consistent as a receiver, but Rucker is a bit more of an all-around playmaker and a slightly better blocker. Which one's better? It depends on the day. Coffman caught 53 passes for 555 yards and eight touchdowns seemingly finding every seam and every opening, while Rucker made 47 grabs for 444 yards and five scores. Each will be earning NFL paychecks in the near future.

Missouri will win if... the passing yards turn into points. Oregon State's secondary gives up plenty over yards, but it stiffens up in crunch time and is great around the goal line. Hawaii had two separate chances to turn the game around on long drives before getting denied deep in Beaver territory. The same thing happened to USC late. Daniel gets most of his work out of the shotgun and likes to make plays on the move, especially to the tight ends, so moving the ball at a regular clip shouldn't be a problem; there will be plenty of plays over 15 yards. But without a true pounder of a back and with Daniel occasionally prone to force throws that aren't there, getting over the goal line will be tougher than it might seem considering the yards Mizzou will finish with.

Oregon State will win if... get all the parts humming. The Beavers aren't going to be able to control the game with the ground game, even with a physical offensive line leading the way for Bernard, but it should be effective enough to force the Tiger linebackers to stay at home. There isn't much of a Tiger pass rush without Smith, so Moore should have plenty of time to operate and mix up his throws. Picking the right spots to hit Stroughter deep will be key, while taking what the Tigers give him on blitzes will also be vital. The quicker Moore reads what Mizzou is doing, the more one-on-one coverage he'll sniff out. He's been doing a good job at that lately.

What will happen: Expect plenty of passing a lots of big plays. There won't be more tight end activity in any bowl this year with Coffman, Rucker, and Oregon State's Joe Newton all to be essential cogs, while the respective running game will likely have a hard time getting going. It might be this simple; if Missouri gets to Moore consistently, it'll win. If Moore has time, he'll pick apart the burnable Tiger secondary. The Beavers will be outgained, but will come up with four critical turnovers to stall promising Tiger drives.

Line: Oregon State -3.5 ... CFN Prediction: Oregon State 34 ... Missouri 27

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Sun Bowl Player Profile: Oregon State WR Sammie Stroughter, history & more