Frank Jansky/Icon SMI
Oregon State (8-4) vs. Pittsburgh (9-3)
Dec. 31, 2 p.m. ET, CBS
Reason To Watch: Because it's the 75th anniversary game, and, well, the Village People are performing at halftime, for heaven's sake! What more reason could you possibly need than the chance to see a live rendition of the 1985 single Sex Over the Phone?
But if you're one of those picky types who requires something, you know, football-related for a rationale, then try this: the Sun Bowl might be the most unpredictable matchup of college football's bloated postseason. Will we see the Pitt squad that defeated seven bowl teams in 2008? Or will the Panthers confound us by playing as poorly as they did in a 54-34 beatdown at the hands of Rutgers? The Beavers may be even harder to read. Are we going to get the Oregon State that beat No. 1 USC 27-21, or that lost 65-38 to No. 19 Oregon?
And what if both teams play as well as they are capable of playing? This is a tilt, after all, between the No. 18 (Pitt) and No. 24 (OSU) outfits in the country. Then we should be in for a dynamite afternoon of football, one that might almost be entertaining enough to relegate the Village People to sideshow status. Almost.
Keep An Eye On: Pitt's LeSean McCoy. This game had the makings of an epic matchup between top running backs, because McCoy and OSU's Jacquizz Rodgers are two of the most electrifying rushers in the nation (they rank 10th and 13th in rushing in Division I-A, respectively). Both players would have been squarely at the center of the action in El Paso. McCoy, a sophomore, combines excellent vision with nimble footwork and a quick burst, while Rodgers, a 5-foot-7, 193-pound freshman, offers speed and surprising power.
But Rodgers is all but certain to miss the game with a cracked shoulder blade, and that leaves a hole that I'm just not certain that the Beavers' will be able to fill. Look for Pitt to control the ball behind McCoy, the one player on the Panthers' roster capable of dominating a game.
Did You Know?: The last meeting between Oregon State and Pitt was the last time that the Beavers lost a bowl game -- the Panthers won the 2002 Insight Bowl 38-13. Coincidentally, that was Pittsburgh's last postseason victory.
Final Analysis: Both teams have their flaws -- mainly inconsistency at quarterback, as well as on defense. Both also know how to run, but with Rodgers out, Oregon State will start at a major disadvantage.
A lot of pressure will fall on the shoulders of the two starting quarterbacks. The Panthers' Bill Stull must be able to take advantage of a defense that will probably play its safeties further up in run support. The Panthers should have plenty of opportunities to exploit single-coverage in the OSU secondary. On the other side of things, the Beavers' Lyle Moevao will have the tougher task -- namely establishing himself as the primary playmaker on offense.
The Pick: Pitt 30 Oregon State 17