FBS Bowl Preview: Texas and Alamo

Ricky Rothstein | Updated Oct 04, 2017

robert griffing

Texas Bowl: Illinois at Baylor

It’s been two years since the Fighting Illini were in a bowl game. For the Bears of Baylor, it’s been a heckuva lot longer.

Baylor hasn’t been to a bowl since 1994 (when it lost 10-3 to Washington State), so you can expect a lot of excitement amongst the Bears faithful as they make their first appearance in a FBS competition in 16 years.

And the Bears do have a lot of good reasons to be excited for this one — most notably, the prospect of facing the Illinois defense. Opponents have averaged 24.3 points against an Illinois defense that allowed 67 points in a loss to Michigan and 38 while being upset by lowly Minnesota at home.

Averaging 32.6 points and ranked 12th nationally in total yards per game (478.5), Baylor has the potential to present another challenge for the Illini.

Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III ranks seventh in the country averaging 315.5 yards of total offense, but he threw one touchdown and three interceptions in three straight losses to No. 16 Oklahoma State, No. 18 Texas A&M and ninth-ranked Oklahoma to conclude the regular season.

For Illinois, the offense runs through RB Mikel Leshoure, who led all Big Ten running backs with 1,513 rushing yards and 14 TDs this season. He was the focal point for an offense that averaged 32.1 points per game — Leshoure also ran for a school-record 330 yards (no typo) on 33 carries in a November win over Northwestern.

Alamo Bowl: No. 16 Oklahoma State at Arizona

This will be a strange matchup for college football enthusiasts as the Cowboys and Wildcats haven’t faced in other in almost 70 years. For Arizona, though, talk of the long gap between games against Okie State have been put on the backburner. The ‘Cats have other things to focus on, like how to slow down the Cowboys’ offense.

Oklahoma State leads the FBS in total offense at 537.6 yards per game, ranks third in scoring at 44.9 points and boasts three skill position players named to the all-Big 12 first team. WR extraordinaire Justin Blackmon was the Big 12 Player of the Year, winner of the Biletnikoff Award (for best receiver in college football), a first-team all American and a statistical freak — he led the nation with 151.4 receiving yards per game and 18 TD grabs. He needs just eight yards against Arizona on Tuesday to break the NCAA sophomore receiving yards record set by Pitt’s Larry Fitzgerald back in 2003. Yes, the same Larry Fitzgerald that’s turned into an all-pro NFL WR with the Arizona Cardinals.

Arizona will be led by QB Nick Foles, who led the Pac-10 in passing this season with an average of 291.1 yards per contest. Foles has been especially good as of late, throwing for 1,063 yards and nine TDs — to just one interception — in his last three contests.