We continue our look at each of the Pac-12’s opponents during the bowl season.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Honolulu, Dec. 24, 5 p.m. PT, ESPN
Oregon State (6-6) vs. Boise State (8-4)
Coach: Bob Gregory (interim)
Record: 8-4, 6-2 Mountain West
Combined opponent’s record: 71-75 (.486)
Common opponents: Both teams lost to Washington and split their games against San Diego State. The Huskies beat Boise State 38-6 in the season opener and then thumped Oregon State 69-27 in late November. Boise State lost to San Diego State in overtime late in November while the Beavers pulled a miracle finish against the Aztecs back in September for a 34-30 win.
Leading passer: Joe Southwick, 151-of-208 (72.6 percent) for 1,654 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Leading rusher: Jay Ajayi, 226 carries for 1,328 with 17 touchdowns
Leading receiver: Matt Miller, 77 receptions for 934 yards with 11 touchdowns
Leading tackler: Ben Weaver, 86 tackles
What to know: We’re not sure who is going to be quarterbacking this team yet. Joe Southwick has returned from an ankle injury, though Grant Hedrick picked up the slack in his absence. Gregory said there are still a lot of details to be worked out. They have identical touchdown-to-interception ratios (12-5), but Southwick has the slightly higher completion percentage. Though Hedrick’s is a solid 68.2.
But the offense goes through Ajayi, an explosive redshirt sophomore, who averaged 5.9 yards per tote.
Eight wins is a disappointing season for the Broncos. After years of BCS busting and top 10 finishes, the Broncos regressed a bit. And then Chris Petersen left for Washington, which led to Wednesday's hiring of Arkansas State’s Bryan Harsin.
All four of Boise State’s losses came on the road this year (at Washington, Fresno State, BYU and San Diego State), so perhaps a trip to a different time zone won’t be great for the Broncos. Worth noting, however, that their strongest win of the year was probably at Utah State against an Aggie team that went to the conference championship game.
Key matchup: Oregon State’s front seven is surely going to be tested by the Boise State running game, but you have to think the Broncos’ secondary is equally challenged by the Sean Mannion-to-Brandin Cooks connection. Outside of maybe Fresno State’s Davante Adams (122 catches, 1,645 yards, 23 touchdowns), the Broncos probably haven’t seen a receiver like Cooks (120, 1,670, 15). A lot of it will come down to Mannion’s decision making. After throwing just three interceptions in his first eight games, he has 11 in his last four.