Stanford (8-4) vs. Oklahoma (7-5)
Dec. 31, 2 p.m. (CBS)
Stanford take by Pac-10 blogger Ted Miller: Don’t be fooled by Oklahoma’s 7-5 record. This is an elite team, see its 27-0 whipping of Oklahoma State in the season-finale.
This should be another interesting strength-on-strength matchup, pitting Stanford’s power running attack with Toby Gerhart vs. Oklahoma’s outstanding run defense, which ranks seventh in the nation.
Stanford will have to be particularly wary of end Jeremy Beal and tackle Gerald McCoy. Those two have combined for 32.5 tackles for a loss and 16 sacks.
Balance will be the key for Stanford. Quarterback Andrew Luck can’t let the Sooners gang up on Gerhart.
The Sooners have been inconsistent on offense, but Stanford has been uneven on defense. Quarterback Landry Jones, after a slow start, has flashed potential and the Sooners offensive line features All-American Trent Williams. They average 31 points and 419 yards per game, so Oklahoma probably will expect to move the ball on a defense that gives up 26 points and 397 yards per game.
There’s another sidenote: Desire.
Stanford will be thrilled to play in the Sun Bowl. It hasn’t played in a bowl game since 2001. Oklahoma? Hard to say. The Sooners are accustomed to BCS bowls -- they played Florida for the national title last year -- so they might not be thrilled by a trip to the Sun Bowl. Or maybe they will want to make a statement for next year.
Oklahoma take by Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin: The Sooners started the season with legitimate BCS title hopes and a No. 3 preseason ranking, but were doomed when tight end Jermaine Gresham was lost in August with a season-ending knee injury and returning Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford lasted less than two games before he was knocked out for the season.
Those losses only scratched the surface in an injury-ravaged season that was the worst run of injuries ever endured by a team coached by Bob Stoops. Freshman quarterback Landry Jones emerged as a starter, but had a streaky range of performances, including six touchdowns in one game, five TD passes in another and five interceptions in another.
After the Oklahoma defense was humiliated in a late-season loss at Texas Tech, the Sooners rebounded with their best performance of the season in a 27-0 beatdown over Oklahoma State. Wide receiver Ryan Broyles emerged as the Sooners’ most versatile weapon with 76 receptions and 12 touchdown grabs. His production will be big against the explosive Cardinal, who rank 10th nationally in scoring, 11th in rushing and 13th in total offense.
Stanford is led by all-purpose running back Toby Gerhart, a Heisman candidate who has rushed for 1,736 yards and 26 touchdowns this season. But he will be tested by the Sooners’ rushing defense, which ranks seventh nationally and has limited opponents to 88.6 yards per game. Winning the Sun Bowl will be huge for Stoops, who has lost five of his last six bowl games.