Alamo Bowl: Key Matchups & Prediction

Oklahoma State has one of college football's most prolific offenses with Brandon Weeden, Kendall Hunter and Justin Blackmon. But will the Cowboys be able to put up big numbers against Arizona in Wednesday night's Alamo Bowl? The Wildcats and head coach Mike Stoops will attempt to slow down Oklahoma State as the Cowboys go for the first 11-win season in school history.

1. OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receivers
vs. Arizona secondary

This is a great matchup as Arizona has a plethora of defensive backs, both cornerbacks and safeties. As a result they will throw out a lot of nickel and dime personnel packages and then throw out a number of coverages with different looks.

Confusion can be as good of a defense as anything against the spread offense where quarterbacks and receivers are needing to make reads on option routes within the play. Weeden has a tremendous feel for the offense right now and is riding a high confidence level.

"I have a pretty good feel for this offense," said Weeden. "I was telling Dana (Holgorsen) it would be nice to have one more year in this offense just to see, but I am starting to feel pretty comfortable. I enjoy this system. It's a quarterback friendly system, that's what I said from the first day. It's fun if you're a quarterback."

He likes it so well and is so confident in his receivers that he is ready for what the Wildcats throw at him.

"They are going to throw some different stuff at us I am sure," added the 27-year-old quarterback. "The nice thing is we have a pretty good game plan in that we feel like we can attack any look they give us. If we can run the ball successfully and keep pounding it in, we can open up the passing game.

"We only worry about what we can control, keep doing what we are doing. I am sure they have watched a couple tapes, and I have a feeling I know what they are going to do. Give any coach four or five weeks to prepare, it makes it tough," added Weeden.

Edge: Edge to Weeden and OSU Receivers

2. OSU secondary
vs. Arizona quarterback Nick Foles and wide receivers
Turn it around and it is similar to the matchup listed above. Foles completes almost 67 percent of his passes and the Wildcats average 310 yards a game in that department.

The Cowboys will need a good pass rush, which at times has been a problem. What hasn't been a problem is the rock ‘em, sock ‘em style of the Cowboys secondary. Andrew McGee said he knows the Oklahoma State secondary got little respect at the beginning of the season but the Big 12 regular season co-leader with five interceptions said he loves a David and Goliath story, which could go for both the secondary, the team, and even McGee as an individual.

Tim Kish is the surviving co-defensive coordinator at Arizona and with added help from head coach Mike Stoops feels his defense has a good plan, and with who they have faced they see OSU with respect, but not awe.

"We have nothing but the utmost respect for Oklahoma State University's offense," said the 35-year coaching veteran. "We know this is gonna be a tremendous challenge for us.

"It seems like in the Pac-10 there's a tremendous challenge every week. What's unlikely is we're sitting here talking about the team that's number one in the country in total offense. I don't think that goes as highly regarded when you're playing the likes of Oregon and some folks like that then you really realize you have a tremendous challenge on your hands, going up against this kind of offense.

"We realize that, we respect that, we prepare that way and we're looking forward to the challenge here Wednesday night."

Pressure from those ends and different looks from those defensive backs will be hard to deal with but at the end of the day so will Weeden's arm, the receivers including Blackmon, and the running game.

"I feel like it's an amazing thing," said McGee. "Just like the movie - I don't know if you've ever seen it - it's called ‘Facing the Giants.' It's one of those times, if people looked at you as being small and then you go out and do big things; it shows that you have the faith to do it.

"And a lot of people said we didn't have the talent, but we relied on other things. Football and competition is not solely on talent all the time, but we believed in each other. This has been the closest knit team that I've ever been a part of."

Foles, the size of standout receiver Juron Criner and the veteran offensive line all play in making this matchup a very tough and close call.

Edge: Too Close to Call

3. OSU offensive tackles Levy Adcock and Nick Martinez
vs. Arizona defensive ends Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed
The cast is off the hand of Nick Martinez and that will help him dramatically. This Oklahoma State offensive line has really been something to watch develop this season, and Martinez is as tough as boot leather and Adcock is just plain nasty. You think those guys at Texas will always remember the night he made them his personal whipping boys? Adcock is giving credit to a long process and not just a spectacular fall.

"We started gelling in the spring, and in the summer we went through little summer workouts, getting to know each other better and working at a fast pace," said Adcoack of the process with offensive line coach Joe Wickline. "In the fall everything started clicking, running on all cylinders."

Something will have to give as the OSU offensive line has allowed just nine sacks and the Wildcats with Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed at the ends are also pretty nasty themselves. They expect to pressure Weeden like they expect to get after every quarterback they play.

"That's always key, especially in an offense like that," said Brooks. "I know they have only given up nine sacks all year. They are very efficient at getting rid of the football and hopefully we can have good coverage down the field."

Edge: Slight Edge to OSU Offensive Tackles Adcock and Martinez

4. OSU running back Kendall Hunter
vs. Arizona defensive front seven
To me this is not the sexiest matchup in the game but it is the most important. Bottom line, Kendall Hunter is playing his final game and I believe he will tear it up, and if he does then the whole OSU offensive repertoire will click. I predict a 160-plus yard effort for Kendall. Heck, maybe 200-plus yards.

Edge: Solid Edge to Kendall Hunter

Prediction: Valero Alamo Bowl
I originally predicted a 42-24 Oklahoma State victory but the loss of punter Quinn Sharp caused me to back off a little. I respect Arizona and feel like the Wildcats are talented enough to challenge Oklahoma State, but at the end of the day I am concerned about where their mindset is after losing their final four games in a row. I know who the losses came against but there is still that mental aspect. On the other hand, Oklahoma State seems very confident and it has seemed that way since really beginning the significant workouts for the game back in Stillwater. Justin Blackmon is healthy and, as I said above, I think the Cowboys running attack is ready to roll right alongside Weeden's arm.
No. 13 Oklahoma State 42, Arizona 28

Big 12 Bowl Predictions
Insight Bowl
No. 14 Missouri 38, Iowa 16

Texas Bowl
Illinois 20, Baylor 27

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Kansas State 14, Syracuse 13

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
No. 16 Nebraska 35, Washington 9

TicketCity Bowl
Texas Tech 24, Northwestern 21

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
No. 8 Oklahoma 48, Connecticut 13

AT&T Cotton Bowl
No. 13 LSU 27, No. 17 Texas A&M 24

Robert Allen's record for the season
Straight Up: 70-25
Against the Spread: 46-38
Not all games have a spread. Games with Big 12 teams involving FCS teams do not have spreads.

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