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CFB: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – Oklahoma vs. West Virginia (8:00 PM ET – FOX)
Jan 03-08 — Fiesta Bowl Preview at Glendale, AZ – 37TH ANNUAL TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL
The third leg of the BCS, the Fiesta Bowl, offers perhaps the best matchup of any bowl game in 2007-08, West Virginia and Oklahoma. Both teams were frontrunners for the national title for much of the season, and come into this game with two losses. The Sooners are about a TD-favorite.
Oklahoma played and won one more game, which could prove significant since an amazing trend has formed in the Fiesta Bowl in which the team with the better straight up record has won ten games in a row, both SU & ATS! WVU has struggled defensively in bowl games, allowing at least 30 points & 37 PPG in its L8. The Mountaineers are also just 2-10 ATS in L12 road games vs. teams outscoring opponents by 17+ PPG. HC Bob Stoops’ team has lost three straight BCS bowl games, both SU & ATS, including this same one a year ago to Boise State.
A little over a month ago you were in the driver’s seat for a shot at the national championship and you lose to an unranked team. That’s the Oklahoma story and it all starts and ends with the quarterback – freshman Sam Bradford. How in the world a redshirt freshman became the end-all, be-all for the Oklahoma Sooners is amazing, but it has happened. Without Bradford, they are entirely beatable – but with him, watch out. The Sooner season hinged on Bradford and, for the most part, he came through. His one bad game, against Colorado, led to the only loss while he was healthy. The most amazing stat about Bradford… one touchdown pass every nine attempts. There are other players on the Sooner team as they ranked second in scoring offense and defense in the conference. RB Allen Patrick led the team in rushing with nearly 1,000 yards, Juaquin Iglesias had over 850 receiving yards, and DeMarco Murray scored 15 touchdowns. Junior guard Duke Robinson and junior linebacker Curtis Lofton have been named as consensus All-Americans. Coach Bobby Stoops has to be pleased with the outcome this year despite losing a shot at the national title. This was a building year for the next two and he has another Big 12 championship. The next two years will be fun in Norman.
A little over a month ago you were… well you get the picture. The Mountaineers have had a horrible month. First they lose to a horrible Pitt team… at home… with a bid in the BCS championship game on the line. Then three weeks later, they lose the man who had brought them there – Coach Rich Rodriguez. Now, with an interim coach, they must face what is probably one of the two best teams in the nation. The Mountaineers finished first in both offensive scoring and defensive scoring in the conference, but it was the Big East. Then again the Big East had some very highly ranked teams this year. WVU had three players, RB Steve Slaton, QB Pat White, and RB Noel Devine, all finish in the top ten in rushing in the conference. Devine was a find who came on late in the year with blazing speed and scary moves. While the running game is the key, WR Darius Reynaud can hurt you from the air. He did so while compiling over 850 receiving yards and 11 TDs.
This game could look a lot like the OU – Texas Tech game or a lot like the OU – Missouri games. Oklahoma’s stout defense should be able to keep Slaton, White, and Devine in check, but I am worried about last year’s Fiesta Bowl. The spread offense run by the BSU team was able to hang with the Sooners and you wonder… The difference this year is going to be the OU offense. If Bradford is healthy, I don’t think anyone can stop the offense from Norman. The million dollar question is how will West Virginia respond to a new coach? Typically teams don’t do well in this situation. I wouldn’t be surprised if West Virginia just kind of rolled over and semi-showed up. Interim coach Bill Stewart seems to have it all in hand, but it’s different and different very rarely translates into victories in Bowl games. Look for WVU to run up the middle when the outside game does not work. If they can break a few up the middle, they could stay close, but I wouldn’t count on it. This should be one of the best bowl games played this season – but expect the Sooners to be too tough for West Virginia.
StatFox Edge – Oklahoma by 13
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