Bowl Breakdown: Las Vegas

Publish date:

No. 16 Oregon State (8-4) vs. No. 15 BYU (10-2)Dec. 22, 8 p.m., ESPN

Reason to watch: This might be the best matchup of the non-BCS bowls. Oregon State was a gnat's eyelash from playing in the Rose Bowl, and BYU boasts one of the nation's best offenses. The teams have produced a nearly identical offensive tale of the tape, from scoring (34.8 for BYU, 32.4 for Oregon State) to rushing yards (148.2, 144.2) to passing yards (288.9, 275.2). The matchup of big-armed quarterbacks (BYU's Max Hall and Oregon State's Sean Canfield) should be fun to watch, as should the matchup of top backs. BYU's Harvey Unga -- whose cousins, Devin and Kevin, play for Oregon State -- averages 5.5 yards per carry, while Beavers star Quizz Rodgers averages 5.4 yards a carry and has rushed for 20 touchdowns.

Keep an eye on: Draftniks will want to take an extended look at Oregon State quarterback Canfield, a 6-foot-4 philosophy major who played a fantastic game in the Beavers' Civil War loss to Oregon with the Pac-10 title hanging in the balance. Canfield's progress is even more amazing considering he was expected to lose his job once Lyle Moevao got healthy. "He's definitely a pro prospect," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "And I think that the beautiful thing about this is that there wasn't any preseason hype for any of this."

Did you know: BYU players will wear royal blue jerseys in the bowl to pay tribute to the 1984 team, which won the national title. The Cougars also wore royal blue instead of their usual navy blue in their regular-season finale against Utah. Athletic director Tom Holmoe said the royal blue jerseys would be reserved for very special occasions.

Final analysis: These two offenses are going to score their fair share of points, so the defense that forces more turnovers should be the one that leads its team to victory. Oregon State is plus-six in turnover margin this season, while BYU is plus-one.

The pick: Oregon State 38, BYU 36.

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