Boise St.-Oregon St. Preview

Boise State’s historical success led them to hiring Bryan Harsin

as coach.

However, neither Harsin nor quarterback Joe Southwick will at

the Hawaii Bowl.

While Harsin focuses on next season, Southwick has been

dismissed from the team as Boise State goes for a team-record fifth

straight postseason win Tuesday night when it faces struggling

Oregon State in Honolulu.

The Broncos (8-4) have reached a 12th straight bowl, but this

one will be different. For the first time in that stretch, Chris

Petersen won’t be on the sideline after he was hired by

Washington.

Harsin was the offensive coordinator under Petersen for the

Broncos’ undefeated 2006 season, which ended with a BCS bowl win.

He starred as their quarterback from 1995-99.

“A millisecond,” Harsin said of making the decision after

guiding Arkansas State to a 7-5 record in his first season as

coach.

“This program personally has changed my life,” he said. “It’s

made me who I am today. It’s made my family and our relationships

where they are today. So as far as the dream of this; all I wanted

to do is get back here and do for this program what it’s done for

me. I’m proud to be in that position, and come in after guys who

have been successful.”

While Harsin was eager to replace Petersen, assistant Bob

Gregory will be in charge in Hawaii.

Gregory dismissed Southwick from the team on Friday and sent him

home after he was accused of urinating from a hotel balcony in

Hawaii. Southwick, who finished the season with a 72.6 completion

rate for 1,654 yards and 12 TDs and five picks, took a polygraph

test after arriving in Boise in his bid to prove his innocence.

Grant Hedrick is expected to get the start in the bowl but the

offense shouldn’t suffer. In 12 games this season, he completed 135

of 198 passes for 1,443 yards and 15 touchdowns.

He’ll be joined on offense by playmakers Jay Ajayi and Matt

Miller.

Ajayi finished second in the Mountain West Conference with 1,328

rushing yards while averaging 5.9 per carry with 18 touchdowns –

one receiving. The sophomore running back was superb in every facet

of Boise State’s 45-17 season-ending win over New Mexico on Nov.

30, racing for 147 yards and a TD on 22 carries, while grabbing

four passes for a career-high 105 with another score.

Miller had career highs of 77 catches, 934 yards and 11

touchdowns, and the junior wide receiver scored nine of those over

the last four games.

The passing game may be in for a test since Oregon State (6-6)

allows an average of 235.0 yards through the air, while ranking

second in the Pac-12 with 19 INTs. Cornerbacks Steven Nelson and

Rashaad Reynolds has six each to tie Arizona State’s Robert Nelson

for the league lead.

The Beavers weren’t nearly as impressive against the run,

surrendering an average of 193.2 yards, only better than Colorado’s

conference-high 208.5.

The defense was an issue in the regular-season finale, giving up

568 total yards, including 12 on a touchdown with 29 seconds left

in regulation to fall 36-35 to then-No. 12 Oregon on Nov. 29.

Oregon State will likely rely heavily on the passing combination

of Sean Mannion to Brandin Cooks, the Biletnikoff Award winner.

Cooks set a Pac-12 record with 120 catches, while his 1,670

yards are just 51 shy of the conference mark set last season by

Southern California’s Marqise Lee. He also led the conference with

15 receiving touchdowns, while rushing for two more.

The junior set a team record with 14 receptions in a win at San

Diego State on Sept. 21.

Mannion, though, hasn’t come close to being that prolific,

throwing 11 interceptions compared to seven touchdowns over the

last five games – a stretch that drew Oregon State’s bowl status

into question. He tossed 29 touchdowns and three picks through the

first seven contests, as the Beavers nearly cracked the Top 25 with

79 votes.

Coach Mike Riley, though, is looking forward to visiting

Hawaii.

“I am thrilled that our football team has an opportunity to play

another game at an exciting destination against an outstanding

opponent in Boise State,” Riley said.

Oregon State leads the series 4-3, but the Broncos won the last

meeting at home in 2010.