No. 14 Oregon State looks to become a 10-win team for just the third time in program history when the Beavers play Florida in the Las Vegas Bowl, kicking off at 11:30 am Saturday in Allegiant Stadium with a live broadcast on ESPN.
The Beavers, who won six of their final seven games to finish the regular season at 9-3, are seeking their first bowl victory since 2013.
Here is a preview:
No. 14 Oregon State (9-3) vs. Florida (6-6)
Time: 11:30 am Saturday
Where: Allegiant Stadium
Coaches: OSU’s Jonathan Smith (fifth year, 25-31), Florida’s Billy Napier (first year, 6-6; career, five years, 46-18)
Latest line: Beavers by 9
TV channels: ESPN (Xfinity Comcast 35/735, Dish 140, Charter Spectrum 35/432), DirecTV (206/1206).
How to watch live stream online: You can watch this game live for FREE with fuboTV (free trial) or with DirecTV Stream (free trial). You can also get this game on Sling TV (promotional offers) if you are out of fuboTV trials, or simply prefer those platforms and their pricing plans. You can also watch this game live on Watch ESPN with your cable or satellite provider login information.
On the air: Radio on KEX (1190), KPOJ (620), Sirius138/197, Sirius XM 959, Sirius XM App 959
Oregon State offense vs. Florida defense
Who would have ever predicted in a game involving the SEC’s Florida and the Pac-12′s Oregon State that the Beavers would have, and by a sizable amount, the best defense? At least that’s how it appears on paper. The Gators have been plain awful in stopping opposing offenses. Defensively, Florida ranks 89th against the pass, 90th in scoring, 101st against the run and 103rd overall. The Gators have had a few moments, like holding bowl-bound South Carolina to six points, and doing enough damage against Utah to win 29-26. One thing Florida does well is create turnovers, as the Gators are among the top 20 nationally with 22 (13 fumble recoveries, nine interceptions).
Florida’s defensive front will take some effort from Oregon State. The Gators have an NFL draft-bound defensive end in Gervon Dexter Sr., and a 415-pound nose tackle in Desmond Watson. Florida has four defenders with at least 70 tackles this season, three who will play Saturday in linebacker Amari Burner and safeties Trey Dean III and Rashad Torrence II. Burney tops Florida with four sacks and nine tackles for loss, and is tied for the team high with two interceptions. Linebacker Antwaun Powell-Ryland Jr. has forced three fumbles.
Don’t expect Oregon State to stray far from its offensive script, which is a run-heavy approach. The Beavers aren’t shy about throwing the ball, particularly if they see an edge. Offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren seeks to be balanced, but down the stretch, the running game has worked well. Freshman Damien Martinez has been on a tear since the middle of October, as he has run for at least 100 yards in six consecutive games. The first-team all-conference back ran for 970 yards this season.
Quarterback Ben Gulbranson has been effective in the most important area for someone in his position: winning football games. Since taking over in Week 6 as the starter for the injured Chance Nolan, Gulbranson is 6-1. Statistically, Gulbranson has been hit and miss. He completed only six passes and had two interceptions in the win over Oregon. But Gulbranson passed for 250 yards and threw the game-winner against Stanford. Overall, he’s 109 of 175 for 1,290 yards and eight touchdowns. As for receivers, would there be a better story than if Tyjon Lindsey, who is from Las Vegas, capped his OSU career with a bang? He has 28 catches, second highest on the team, for 310 yards. Tre’Shaun Harrison leads the way with 52 receptions for 604 yards and four touchdowns.
Oregon State defense vs. Florida offense
It’s no secret as to what Oregon State will attempt to do. With Florida quarterback Jack Miller III taking his first snap of the season Saturday, the Beavers are likely to try to slow down the Gators’ running game and put the game in Miller’s hands. That won’t be easy. Florida has a potent rushing attack that produces 213.7 yards per game. The Gators average 5.8 yards per carry, third best among FBS teams. Florida has a two-headed approach in its backfield, as Montrell Johnson Jr. and Trevor Etienne have combined for 1,523 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. Florida’s passing attack is pedestrian, as it produced an average of 227 yards per game. The Gators’ most prolific receiver is Ricky Pearsall, who caught 29 passes for 596 yards and five touchdowns. Xzavier Henderson, who has a team-high 38 catches, is unlikely to play.
But Florida’s biggest loss is quarterback Anthony Richardson, whose college career is finished after declaring for the NFL draft. Richardson passed for 2,549 yards and 17 touchdowns, in addition to running for 654 yards and nine scores. Miller, an Ohio State transfer, hasn’t thrown a pass since October 2021. He’s played in only four games, all in a mop-up role. Miller was in the mix to be Richardson’s backup in 2022, but suffered a thumb injury during preseason camp and missed half the season. He’s been practicing since the middle of October. Also out for Florida is offensive guard O’Cyrus Torrence, a first-team All American who opted for the draft.
Oregon State’s defense is trying to add a successful final chapter to what has been one of its best years in more than a decade. The Beavers won six of their final seven games, with the defense leading the way. During that stretch, the Beavers gave up 17.3 points and 331 yards per game. OSU ranks first or second in scoring, rushing, pass efficiency and total defense in the Pac-12. To prove it has a defense of SEC quality would enhance the Beavers’ profile. OSU will be without first-team all-conference cornerback Rejzohn Wright, who had thumb surgery three weeks ago. But the Beavers’ secondary remains loaded with experience, notably cornerback Alex Austin and safeties Jaydon Grant and Kitan Oladapo. OSU’s run defense, which gives up 114 yards a game and ranks 20th in the country, will get one of its best tests of the season.
- Oregon State’s previous 10-win seasons were 2000 (11-1) and 2006 (10-3).
- Oregon State is 11-7 in bowl games. This is the Beavers’ third Las Vegas Bowl appearance. In 2003, OSU defeated New Mexico 55-14, and in 2009, lost to BYU 44-20.
- This is Oregon State’s first-ever game against a team from the state of Florida.
- The Beavers are 2-11-1 against current SEC members, but the two wins came against Missouri when it was a member of the Big 12.
- This is OSU’s first game against an SEC foe since playing LSU in 2004.
- Smith is 0-1 in bowl games, while Napier is 2-1.
- This is Florida’s fifth consecutive bowl appearance, and eighth in nine years. The Gators are 24-23 all-time in bowl games.
- Oregon State is Florida’s seventh CFP top 25 opponent this season, tied for most among FBS teams.
- Florida has scored in an NCAA record 435 consecutive games.
Oregon State 27, Florida 16
— Nick Daschel | email@example.com | @nickdaschel