After losing four straight to end the regular season, 7-5 Arizona will play 10-2 and 14th ranked Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio on Wednesday.
The Arizona team that will take the field on Wednesday is almost playing opposite of how they were playing the first half of the season. For much of the season, it was the Wildcat defense that was heralded, and the offense that was solid, but not considered one of the best in the country. However, the offense led by quarterback Nick Foles is now starting to click, whereas the defense is allowing an average of over 450 yards per game of offense in the last four games, all losses.
That defense is going to face perhaps its biggest challenge yet this season.
Oklahoma State has stars at each playmaking position: Brandon Weeden at quarterback, Kendall Hunter at running back, and Justin Blackmon at wide receiver. Weems has passed for over 4,000 yards this season, Hunter is an All-American who has scored 16 times and ran for over 1,500 yards, and Blackmon won the Biletnikoff award earlier this month, which is given each year to the best receiver in the country.
While the offense of Oklahoma State is truly impressive, the defense isn’t quite up to par. The unit is allowing almost 28 points per game, and they gave up a combined 98 points in their two losses this season, to Nebraska and Oklahoma.
The Arizona offense may be able to take advantage of the sub-par Cowboy defense. Nick Foles is playing some of his best football of the season amidst the four-game losing streak, and receiver Juron Criner is healthy once again, looking to go over the 1,200 mark for receiving yards on the season.
But no doubt, the key will be the defense of Arizona to stop the offensive firepower on the Oklahoma State sideline. Defensive linemen Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed will need to put a ton of pressure on Weeden to force arrant throws. Cornerbacks Robert Golden and Trevin Wade, both 5’ 11’ in height respectively, will have their hands full with Blackmon and other receiver Josh Cooper. But if the Wildcat defense can hold the Cowboys at all, even a little bit, this game could end up being close. Arizona certainly has the playmakers on both sides of the ball to make this a competitive one, if they can execute.
What’s my prediction? While I think Arizona can keep it close for a bit, the Oklahoma State offense is too much, even though I think the Wildcat D will play better than they have the past four games. This game has the potential to be a shootout, and I think it will indeed be so. Both teams are ranked in the top ten nationally in passing yards, so expect plenty of passes. But in the end, the Cowboys will eventually pull away, winning 38-28.
About the Author
Written by Henry Childs
I am currently a senior at the University of Oregon studying Broadcast Journalism. Although I have a love for my Ducks, I am simply an avid college football fan trying to get a head start in the sports journalism world. Born and raised in Portland, I am also a ginormous Portland Trailblazers fan. Some of my loves include golf, Dr. Pepper, pugs, and living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.