SAN DIEGO — Oklahoma State and Oregon upheld the Holiday Bowl's reputation for high-scoring, closely contested games in the Ducks' 42-31 victory.
But the Cowboys must've left Qualcomm Stadium wondering how they stayed in the game as long as they did.
The Pokes had letdowns in all three phases of the game, most of them in the second half. But the defensive and special teams struggles could have been overcome. It was the offense that ultimately doomed OSU Tuesday night.
Yes, OSU's trio of stars all were hobbled.
Running back Kendall Hunter was obviously still bothered physically and mentally by the knee injury he suffered against Colorado more than six weeks ago. Quarterback Zac Robinson sustained a shoulder injury that limited his effectiveness throwing the ball. And a knee injury mostly turned receiver Dez Bryant into a decoy — or it should have.
But the OSU offense rarely showed the spark it had nearly all season. The running game, with or without Hunter, was largely ineffective.
With these Cowboys, the run game is the key that cranks the offensive motor. And there's hardly been a team this year that could overpower OSU's offense at the line of scrimmage, but Oregon found a way.