OREGON STATE BEAVERS (6-6)
vs. BOISE STATE BRONCOS (8-4)
Aloha Stadium Ė Honolulu, HI
Kickoff: Tuesday, Dec. 24, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Oregon State -3, Total: 64
Boise State attempts to win its fifth straight bowl game in as many years when it challenges Oregon State in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.
After dropping their first game to FCS school Eastern Washington, the Beavers caught fire with 43.8 PPG during six straight wins, including a 4-0 start in the Pac-12. It has been all downhill from there though, as their schedule got harder and they scored just 21.0 PPG in losing each of their final five games of the season (2-3 ATS). They put up a great effort in their last contest against cross-state rival -- and 24-point favorite -- Oregon, but eventually lost 36-35. This game will be the Beavers' 11th bowl game since 1999, and they are 6-4 SU in their previous 10 contests. Boise State had its first season with fewer than 10 wins since 2005, and was not first or tied for first in the Mountain West Conference for only the fourth time since joining the league in 2001. The Broncos dominated in their eight wins this season, prevailing by double-digits each time, and two of their four losses were also very close as they lost to Fresno State in the final minutes of a 41-40 game, and fell 34-31 in overtime to San Diego State. Since 1999, BSU has been in a bowl game every season besides 2001, and holds a 9-4 SU record in those games including winning their last four by an average of 16.0 PPG. But the Broncos are no longer run by Chris Petersen, who has taken the head coaching job at Washington, and was replaced by interim head coach Bob Gregory for Tuesday's game. Boise State is 3-2 SU (3-1-1 ATS) when facing the Beavers since 2003, but the two teams have not played each other since 2010. Oregon State is 24-7 ATS (77%) since 1992 when coming off two or more consecutive Overs, but the Broncos are 27-8 ATS (77%) after two ATS losses in their previous three games during this same timeframe. The Beavers will not likely have junior LB D.J. Alexander (31 tackles in past three games) because of a neck injury, while Boise Stateís second leading wide receiver, Shane Williams-Rhodes (702 rec. yards, 6 TD), is questionable for this game with an ankle injury.
Can Oregon State end its long losing skid on Tuesday? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The four experts finished the regular season a collective 51.1% ATS (120-115-7) on college football Best Bets, led by StatFox Dave's stellar 57% ATS (35-25-2) mark. This included a 64% ATS (23-13-2) record in his final 11 weeks. StatFox Gary was 2-1 ATS in the final week to finish 53% ATS (21-19-1) in the regular season. Gary was 56% ATS (20-16-1) in college football Best Bets since Week 3. StatFox Brian also finished strong with a 3-1 ATS mark on Best Bets in Championship Week, giving him his fourth straight winning season of college football Best Bets at 52% ATS (33-30-1). StatFox Scott is looking to repeat a huge 2012-13 bowl season, when he posted a 71% ATS mark in Best Bets (5-2-1).
The Beavers were a one-dimensional offense this season, ranking third in the nation in passing yards (382.1 YPG), but were 118th among FBS schools with a putrid 86.0 rushing YPG. Leading the high-octane passing attack is QB Sean Mannion, who is second in the nation with 4,403 passing yards and is tied for third with 36 touchdowns through the air. He has had his troubles with turnovers over the past four games though and has 11 of his 14 interceptions in those games with only 6 TD passes in these 179 pass attempts. Over the teamís six-game winning streak, Mannion had at least 365 yards passing and 3 TD in each game. His favorite target on the season has been junior WR Brandin Cooks, who leads the nation with 1,670 receiving yards on 120 catches (2nd in FBS) and has added 15 touchdowns (T-2nd in nation). He has had 6+ receptions and 80+ receiving yards in each game this season, and has also added 188 rushing yards on 28 carries (6.7 YPC) with two touchdowns. With only 467 rushing yards (4.5 YPC) this season, HB Terron Ward leads the team in that category and has added seven touchdowns as well (4 rushing, 3 receiving). DE Scott Crichton (43 tackles, 6.5 sacks) is considered one of the top pass rushers in the nation, but has had little help around him as the team is giving up 32.1 PPG (96th in nation) and recently allowed a season-high 69 points to Washington on Nov. 23. The Beavers have been especially terrible in defending the run, allowing 193 rushing YPG on 5.2 YPC this season.
The Broncos are good, but not great, in both the passing game (269 YPG, 31st in nation) and rushing attack (201.8 YPG, 32nd in FBS) while averaging an impressive 38.8 PPG (17th in nation). Senior QB Joe Southwick (1,654 pass yards, 8.0 YPA, 12 TD, 5 INT) broke his ankle on Oct. 19, but was able to return to action in the last game when he completed 2-of-2 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown. He is expected to be fully healed and ready to go for this game, but in the off-chance he cannot play; dual-threat QB Grant Hedrick (1,443 pass yards, 7.3 YPA, 15 TD, 5 INT) would get the start. He was 4-2 as a starter in place of Southwick, and added his running ability to the offense with 257 rushing yards (4.5 YPC) and six touchdowns, both which ranked second on the team. HB Jay Ajayi has been spectacular this season as the team's leading ground gainer, rushing the ball for 1,328 yards on 5.9 YPC, and finding the end zone 18 times (17 rushing). He had 147 rushing yards (6.7 YPC) and added a season-high 104 receiving yards with two total touchdowns in the teamís most recent game. WRs Matt Miller (934 rec. yards, 11 TD) and Shane Williams-Rhodes (702 rec. yards, 6 TD) have been the top ball-catchers for the Broncos this season, but Williams-Rhodes may miss this game as he recovers from an ankle injury. The 303-pound DT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (50 tackles) and the Boise State defense has allowed only 23.8 PPG to their opponents this year (37th in FBS), and has compiled 12 takeaways over the past four contests. However, opposing quarterbacks are completing 64.1% of their passes for 248 YPG (7.1 YPA) against the Broncos, which could mean huge numbers for Sean Mannion and the Beavers' passing attack.