The only bowl game to feature two top 20 ranked teams is yes, right here folks the Las Vegas bowl. BYU is making their fifth straight trip to the game and seem to be more interested then last year where the Cougars used only a handful of their practices. Supposedly this year is different with BYU motivated of the possibility of getting into the top 10 for the first time since 1996.
While Oregon State is coming off a heart breaking loss against rival Oregon which also cost them a shot at their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1965. Oregon State traditionally finishes the season strong, but a big drop from the Rose Bowl where the Pac-10 champ goes down to the fifth spot to the Vegas Bowl is a huge let down.
BYU always tries to be balanced and will need to be to win this game. Look for BYU to give a heavy dose of RB Harvey Unga early and then start throwing to TE Dennis Pitta. For either of those to happen the BYU offensive line needs to perform well which has been a problem in a few games this year.
If the line holds up QB Max Hall should have a great passing day since Oregon State is 87th in the nation in passing while BYU is 18th. Oregon State will need to do what most teams -- minus Air Force -- do is to either double or shadow TE Dennis Pitta and force Max Hall to find someone else to pass the ball around to. Even if Pitta is slowed down BYU has other weapons to make things happen and rack up the yards. Max Hall will need to not force the pass if Pitta is not open. Look for a heavy dose of Unga to wear down the Beaver defense.
BYU's defense has had great games and then not great games. It seems that BYU's defense gets up for the big games and in other games takes a while to get in their groove. Tonight's game BYU will need to stop RB Jacquizz Rodgers from getting in the open field since he is elusive and very fast. That speed going up against a BYU defense that is more power then speed will be interesting. OSU's starting QB Sean Canfield is one of the most efficient in the country with a 148.6 passer efficiency rating. The BYU line will need to disrupt Canfield who rarely throws any picks who has only six on the year.
Oregon State brings in their own weapons starting with senior QB Sean Canfield as mentioned above is a very efficient passer, and one who does not make mistakes. Oregon State will run an offense similar to Utah which consists of quick short passes and allow their play makers specifically Jacquizz and James Rodgers. Both are play makers with speed which will cause some type of problems for the BYU defense.
Defensively Oregon State is a typical Pac-10 defense that will allow some points and yards while engaging in a shoot out. Their defense is middle of the pack in the nation and is solid in rush defense, but their achilles is the pass defense that is 84th in the country. If BYU is to get off in the passing game then the Beavers could be in for a long night. They will need to get pressure on Hall and force him into bad passes that will end up as turnovers.
Expect for this game to be a high scoring affair that comes down to the last quarter or the last few possessions. This will be a very pro BYU crowd as the drive from the Salt Lake area is about six hours, so expect around 70 percent of Cougar blue.
Total Yards Per Game:
OSU: 419 (28th); BYU: 437 (18th)
Passing Yards Per Game:
OSU: 294 (16th); BYU: 299 (13th)
Rushing Yards Per Game:
OSU: 144 (64th); BYU: 148 (60th)
Points Scored Per Game:
OSU: 32 (23rd); BYU: 34(13th)