Keys to the Emerald Bowl

As you have undoubtedly already had pounded into your head both Oregon State and Maryland have won three straight bowl games each, tied for the 10th longest streak in the nation Obviously, Mike Riley and Ralph Friedgen each do a fantastic job at preparing their teams for post season play.

Unfortunately, one school's streak must end tonight, and as a Beaver Believer, I certainly hope that the school's streak that ends has a mascot that with a hard outer shell.

Onward to the keys to the game, with apologies to OrangeAttack...


1.  Play with emotion
Several teams fall prey to this each bowl season.  Weather it be lack of motivation (Oregon, Cal) or lack of preparation (Arizona State) the team that comes out flat is already playing from behind.

It has been over three weeks since Oregon State played an opponent, but that shouldn't be a problem for Riley's team.  The 2007 squad is a blue collar, tight knit bunch who doesn't take any opponent lightly, especially considering how they started the year.

The stands will be packed as Emerald Bowl officials are expecting over 33,000 fans, second most in the bowl game's history, with almost a third of them sporting orange and black.  Plus, with over half of OSU's roster being from California, many of the athlete's friends and family will be rooting in the stands giving the team extra motivation to perform well.


2.  Do what you do best
It's no secret that the Men in Black are great against the run.  They are second in the nation in rushing allowing 75 yards per game while holding every opponent except Cal, a victory nonetheless, to an average of 87.3 yards below their season average.

Other strengths of the Beaver defense include third down defense in which they rank second in the nation allowing 28.3 percent, average tackles for loss in which they average 8.6 per game good for sixth in the nation and a national best 507 yards lost, sacks in which they have 42, good for third in the nation, and forced turnovers in which the Beavs rank an amazing first in the Pac-10 with 32.

The impressive defensive numbers are fueled by a loaded depth chart that features 10 defensive linemen, eight linebackers and nine defensive backs that play regularly.  In fact, that depth has resulted in 18 players harnessing tackles for loss, 12 individuals with sacks and 13 athletes with at least one interception or fumble recovery.

But wait, there's even more good news - the Maryland offensive line gives up an average of 3.2 sacks per game - a statistic that has the defense licking their chops.

However, Maryland's offensive strength lies with a punishing running game that features two talented backs that average almost 150 yards and 14 points a game.

Load up to stop the run and force Terp quarterback Chris Turner to make plays with his arm and feet while making sure he knows the defense is out to pound him into the turf every down.


3.  Take care of the football
Any Beaver fan knows that turnovers can be costly - just ask any unlucky fan who was in the stands during the UCLA debacle or cursed at the radio during the ASU contest.

It's hard to believe that at one point during the year, Oregon State led the nation in turnovers with 21 and was a negative-10 for turnover margin - 116th in the nation.

Amazingly, the Beavers have turned it around, starting with the California game, as they are plus-14 in the last seven games.

Over the last four seasons, OSU is 21-2 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponents, 5-14 when committing more turnovers and 3-3 when even. 

The numbers speak for themselves - take care of the football and Beavs have a great chance of leaving San Francisco with a victory.

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