2006 Sun Bowl Preview
by Jordan Adams - 12/26/2006
The Missouri Tigers were off to an excellent 6-0 start to the college football season and no quarterback looked better than Sophomore Chase Daniel. Then the reality of the Big 12 schedule kicked in and the Tigers dropped four of their last six games to finish 8-4. Opposing them is a team headed in the opposite direction. Oregon State has won seven of its last eight games, knocking off the likes of USC, Hawaii and Oregon along the way. The Beavers are aiming for a strong ending to this late run, while Mizzou looks to rebound from its struggles and finish the season with a positive ending.
Oregon State was initially a four-point favorite when the line opened. It has since dropped to 3.5 at most books and can be found as low as three. The total has stayed practically the same as 52.5, although shopping around might allow you to find it one half point lower.
The Tigers were not so impressive against the number, posting a 6-5 ATS mark, and notably struggled on the road with a 2-3 record. Oregon State comes into the game at 9-4 in the standings and is two games worse against the spread at 7-5. The Beavers fared well away from Corvallis, going 4-2 during the regular season.
During the Beavers current stretch of seven wins in their last eight, a lot can be credited to the balanced attack of quarterback Matt Moore and running back Yvenson Bernard. Moore was much improved in the turnover category from a year ago, throwing only six interceptions to 14 touchdowns. Bernard was solid, again rushing for over 1,000 yards on the year and scoring 12 times on the ground. Just as much, the defense was strong throughout the year, allowing a shade less than 18 points a game.
Missouri's success early in the year came at the hands of its starting quarterback. Chase Daniel opened the year with 13 touchdown passes in his first five games. He was more inconsistent during the late run in conference play but still finished with 26 touchdowns to just ten interceptions, accounting for over 3,100 yards.
A win by Oregon State would mean the first ten-win season under head coach Mike Riley in his six years with the program.
Last year's Sun Bowl was an epic shootout between Northwestern and UCLA. The two teams combined for 88 points, and while these two offenses have been impressive this year, that number might be too difficult a task to duplicate. If indeed they are going to put up something similar, receivers such as Oregon State's Sammie Stroughter and tight end Joe Newton will have to produce. Stroughter led the Beavers this year with 66 catches and over 1,200 yards receiving. Newton was tops on the team with five aerial scores. Missouri is led by William Franklin and Chase Coffman, combining for over 1,300 receiving yards and 14 scores.
Oregon State has not played in a bowl game since its 2004 drubbing of Notre Dame, 38-21. They have won three of four bowls, all victories coming by double-digits.
Missouri pulled through in last year's Independence Bowl, besting South Carolina 38-31. The team's only other bowl appearance since 2000 came in a victory over West Virginia in 2003.