Here comes the Sun

THE EXPECTED SUN BOWL matchup pitting a pair of Top 25 teams -- Oregon State and Pitt -- materialized on Saturday. The official word on OSU will not come until Sunday but with the Panthers turning a taut defensive struggle into a blowout win in the second half, and USC dispatching UCLA, it's a virtually assured Dec. 31 showdown between No. 24 Oregon State vs. No. 23 Pitt.

Pitt, the No. 2 team in the Big East, has already accepted their invite to El Paso. The Pac-10 Conference does release teams for selection until Sunday but it's a mere formality at this point that Oregon State will join them. The Beavs finished 7-2 in the league play.

The Sun Bowl is played on Wednesday, Dec. 31 at 11:00 a.m. PT. It will be presented in HD by CBS.

Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt is in his fourth year as head man of the Panthers. Under his tutelage, Pitt has won the last two against West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl, with the 2007 win a shocker that knocked WVU out of the national title game.

The Beavs will be looking to complete their third straight season ranked in the final Top 25 polls. In 2006, the Beavs were ranked No. 21 and 22 in the final AP and USA Today/Coaches polls, respectively. Last season, OSU finished up at No. 25 in the AP.

Pitt boasts a stingy defense and a sophomore running back, LeSean McCoy, who leads the nation in scoring. Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers (shoulder strain) missed the regular season finale but is expected to be ready to go in time for the Sun Bowl -- stay tuned, however, it could be a time before his postseason availability is known for sure.

The Beavs will be headed to the Sun Bowl for the second time in three years. In 2006, Oregon State beat Missouri 39-38 in a thriller. Beaver QB Moore hit tight end Joe Newton with 23 seconds left in regulation to bring the Beavs to within a point at 38-37. Mike Riley then rolled the dice and Yvenson Bernard ran for a successful two-point conversion.

  • Oregon State (8-4, 7-2) has the longest active bowl winning streak (4) in the Pac-10. The Beavers will be headed to their eighth bowl in 10 years.

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    2007 W  Emerald Bowl   Oregon State 21  Maryland     14
    2006 W  Sun Bowl       Oregon State 39  Missouri     38
    2004 W  Insight Bowl   Oregon State 38  Notre Dame   21
    2003 W  Las Vegas Bowl Oregon State 55  New Mexico   14
    2002 L  Insight Bowl   Pittsburgh   38  Oregon State 13
    2001 W  Fiesta Bowl    Oregon State 41  Notre Dame    9
    1999 L  Oahu Bowl      Hawaii       23  Oregon State 17

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