Hawaii Bowl preview: Boise State vs. Oregon State
The 2013-14 college football bowl season continues on Christmas Eve, as the Hawaii Bowl takes place between Boise State and Oregon State in Honolulu.
Here are some things to keep an eye on when you're tuned into the contest between the Broncos and the Beavers.
Boise State (8-4) vs. Oregon State (6-6)
December 24, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
The Broncos had a down year by their standards, as they were never in the equation to be BCS busters. And after being pursued by a variety of major programs over the years, head coach Chris Petersen finally elected to leave Boise, as he took over the Washington program.
Meanwhile, the Beavers dropped their season opener to Eastern Washington before winning six straight. However, Mike Riley's squad finished the regular season on a five-game losing streak.
No Southwick: Starting quarterback Joe Southwick was suspended and sent home, so junior Grant Hedrick will get the nod. The Broncos are used to having Hedrick under center, though, as he has started since Southwick hurt his foot against Nevada in October. Hedrick has played pretty well, although he tossed a combined three interceptions in losses to BYU and San Diego State. He did, however, throw for five scores against zero picks in a win over Colorado State, which is coming off of a thrilling victory over Washington State in the New Mexico Bowl. Hedrick will have help on the ground to make this offense balanced, as running back Jay Ajayi has rushed for 1,328 yards and 17 touchdowns with a near 6.0 yards per carry average. The Beavers are 91st in the nation in run defense, giving up over 193 yards per contest, so Ajayi should have plenty of room to run.
US PRESSWIRESean Mannion threw 11 interceptions over the Beavers' final four games.
Careless Mannion: Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion lit up the scoreboard and the stat sheet this fall, throwing for 4,403 yards and 36 touchdowns. But he threw 11 interceptions over the team's final four games, and the Beavers have had a one-dimensional offense all season long. Mannion tries to carry the team because of the lack of a strong running game, so he often makes poor decisions. He does, however, have a stud receiver in Brandin Cooks, an All-American who won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s most outstanding wide receiver. He has 120 catches for 1,670 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year, including 31 grabs for more than 20 yards. And Boise is very susceptible against the pass.
Odds and ends: Oregon State is favored by 1.5 points and leads the all-time series 4-3 ... Boise State will be coached by Bob Gregory, who will then turn fulltime head duties over to Bryan Harsin, who came back to the Broncos after a one-year stint as Arkansas State head coach following his tenure as OC at Texas ... Cooks needs 52 receiving yards to set the Pac-12 record for yards in a season ... A loss by the Beavers would give them a losing record for the third time in four seasons.
Dave Miller, the college football editor and writer for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.