>Oklahoma State vs. Arizona
Oklahoma State looks to cap a memorable year with a school-record 11th victory in San Antonio’s Alamo Bowl on Wednesday night when it squares off against an Arizona team hoping to salvage a win from a disappointing final two months of the season.
The 16th-ranked Cowboys (10-2) were picked to finish fifth in the Big 12 South this season, but ended up tying for the division title and setting a school record with 10 regular-season wins. They are making a school-record fifth straight bowl appearance.
The Wildcats seemed like they might be headed to a BCS bowl earlier this year, climbing as high as ninth in the rankings, but four straight losses to close the regular season quickly ended those hopes. Arizona is still appearing in a third consecutive bowl game, matching the school’s previous best string from 1992-94.
Oklahoma State leads the FBS in total offense at 537.6 yards per game, ranks third in scoring at 44.9 points and boasts three skill position players named to the all-Big 12 first team.
Justin Blackmon is the conference’s player of the year, the Biletnikoff Award winner and a first-team All-American after leading the nation with 151.4 receiving yards per game and 18 touchdown catches. He needs eight yards against Arizona to break the NCAA sophomore receiving yards record of 1,672, set by Pittsburgh’s Larry Fitzgerald in 2003. Blackmon has tied an NCAA record with 11 straight games of 100 yards receiving with a TD.
Brandon Weeden was second in the country in yards passing per game (336.4) and fifth in touchdown passes (32). He has also thrown for 4,037 yards.
Blackmon was joined on the All-American first team by running back Kendall Hunter. The senior is seventh in the nation with 126.3 rushing yards per game and ran for 16 TDs. He did all this while rushing for 1,516 yards.
Since the start of November, the Wildcats have allowed an average of 456.0 yards, 20th-worst in the FBS, and an average of 36.0 points, 27th-worst. This is after a 7-1 start, where they were 10th nationally in points and yards allowed.
While the Wildcats’ defense needs to tighten up, the offense heads into the bowl playing some of its best football.
Nick Foles has passed for 1,063 yards with nine touchdowns to just one interception in his last three games. He threw for 2,911 and 19 touchdowns the entire season. The junior leads the Pac-10 in passing with an average of 291.1 yards and his favorite target, first-team all-conference selection Juron Criner, led the league with 73 receptions and 1,186 yards.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 49, Arizona 41