No. 15 Oregon State vs. Texas
Sat., Dec. 29 — 6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN
San Antonio — Alamodome
Postseason games often come down to who truly wants to be playing football during the holidays and who doesn’t. Normally, this doesn’t show itself until the pads start cracking, but sometimes you can spot it on the day the invitations are issued.
We’ve got that situation here as Texas (8-4) will take an 80-mile bus ride down I-35 to face Oregon State (9-3), which has next to no national sizzle.
The Beavers, on the other hand, were 3-9 last year and are overjoyed to be going anywhere after a two-year postseason drought. That they get to go into the heart of Texas and play the Longhorns in an us-against-the-world environment has got to be exhilarating.
It’s extremely improbable that up-and-down Texas will end up riding the right wave. Avoiding a second consecutive five-loss season isn’t much of a motivating factor.
We’re not quite as positive about who’ll win the marquee matchup between Beaver wideouts Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks and the talented Longhorn secondary, but we do envision a stalemate to be better than what the uncertain Texas offense will be able to generate versus a Beaver defense that is allowing less than 20 points per game.
Opening point spread: Oregon State by 1
The pick: Oregon State 27-21
Click HERE to get predictions for the remaining bowl games.
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah