"It's going to be a great matchup"

ONE OF THE big draws of bowl games are the uncommon matchups they create - Oregon State doesn't play many schools from the east coast and Pittsburgh doesn't play many universities from the west coast.

The familiarity that Pittsburgh has with Oregon State and vica versa is limited to mostly game tape and if a team is lucky enough - a recent Oregon State graduate assistant.

Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt said he didn't have to tell his team much about the Beavers though as many of the Panthers' players watched OSU knock off USC Sept. 25.

“All I really had to tell our players to make the point of emphasis was - and I think most of our guys saw that game - is that they beat USC this year," said Wannstedt who is in his fourth year at Pitt. "and that they were playing for the Rose Bowl in the last game of the year.”

Wannstedt says that the Beaver defense, and offense, is very similar to the Panther defense and offense. He said the Beaver defense compares favorably to Cincinnati's, except for the secondary.

“These guys have played together for awhile and the secondary has been the strength of their defense," Wannstedt said. "They’re a very challenging defense. They get up and press you, real aggressive. They force you to get open and make plays."

On the offensive side of the ball he noted that OSU has some big play receivers, likes to throw in some play action and uses their tight ends well.

“They’re a pro-style offense from the standpoint that they’re big into the play-action pass," said Wannstedt who is 25-22 at Pitt. "You know, run the ball, some power, some stretch and then throw the play action off of it."

"And they’ll go two tight ends and put the other tight end in the backfield and run all their same runs, which we do. Very similar to us when John Pelusi or Dorin Dickerson are in the game.”

Although running back Jacquizz Rodgers most likely won't play in the Sun Bowl Wannstedt's team still prepared for the Pac-10's Offensive Player of the Year comparing the electric player to West Virginia's Noel Devine.

“We had a lot of time before we play and we’re preparing for him to play," Wannstedt said. "If I was going to compare him to someone I would compare him to Noel Devine at West Virginia."

"He’s kind of a slasher-type runner that’s got breakaway speed. He’s not very big, we know that, but he plays big."

Both teams have had ample time to prepare for each other. Oregon State hasn't played in a game since Nov. 29 while Pittsburgh hasn't played since Dec. 7.

The players and coaches are excited about playing Oregon State and have a healthy dose of respect for the Men in Black.

“I think it’s going to be a great matchup," Wannstedt said. "Our kids are really looking forward to the bowl game and we’ve got to make sure that we truly appreciate and understand what a good football team we’re playing."

For the full transcript of Wannstedt's interview in which he discusses special teams, blocked kicks, LB Scott McKillop and more visit PittsburghPanthers.com.

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