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Hawaii Bowl: Oregon State vs. Boise State

The SportsXchange

HONOLULU -- Two teams in need of a getaway were granted their wish.

Boise State, which will play its first game without Chris Petersen on the coaching staff since the 2000 Humanitarian Bowl, is going through a coaching transition. Linebackers coach Bob Gregory will serve as interim head coach when the team takes on Oregon State in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve. Both Broncos coordinators -- Robert Prince on offense and Pete Kwiatkowski on defense -- will be there.

The last time the Broncos played in the Hawaii Bowl, in 2007 against East Carolina, they failed to show up until the second half.

Distractions will be even more prevalent this time. The top storyline surrounding the team 24 hours before kickoff? Quarterback Joe Southwick being sent home for allegedly urinating off of his hotel balcony. Southwick denied it, and said he took a polygraph test and knows the player who is actually guilty.

"It's going to be fun," Gregory said. "I just can't say enough about the kids that we have in this program. I know that they're all going to do it the right way. Our kids aren't going to go over there and be distracted. They'll have time to go to the beach and have fun. When it comes time to practice and focus, they're going to do that regardless. That's what they've done all year. That's what this program is all about. I don't anticipate that being any different than the way it's been."

That was before the Dec. 20 decision to send Southwick, the Broncos' starting quarterback and a fifth-year senior, home along with redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Patti. Patti, however, was reinstated and is in Honolulu. It gave the team four days of preparation with junior Grant Hedrick running the first-team offense.

"It was," Hedrick said, "a lot of reps. I was pretty gassed (Friday).

"Mentally, it's been draining with all the changes."

The Broncos will try to extend a few streaks. They have won four straight bowl games, they have beaten a Pac-12 team in five straight seasons and they have won either a conference or bowl championship 10 of the past 11 years.

"It's always important to end our career with a win and try to get that fifth ring," senior defensive end Kharyee Marshall said. "If we don't get that win, we'll feel like we let the past Broncos down and let the future Broncos who are coming in down. We're going to prepare like we usually do. We're not going to miss a beat."

The Beavers, meanwhile, lost their final five games after a 6-1 start that got them into the Top 25. They nearly upset Oregon in the regular-season finale, their best performance in weeks.

"After the Civil War, a bunch of us were talking about, 'Man, if we played like that every game, we could be special.' We all wanted a bowl game so we could go out on a high note," linebacker D.J. Alexander said. "I talked a few guys today and everyone's excited. Most of us have never been to Hawaii, and lots of guys have family there."

PLOTLINES

None rates bigger than the suspension of Boise State starting quarterback Joe Southwick. The fifth-year senior was sent back to school Friday, accused of urinating from his hotel balcony. Southwick denies he was involved, took a polygraph test and stressed his innocence the day before the Hawaii Bowl.

"I have great appreciation and respect for Joe Southwick. I got here when Joe took over and Joe replaced Kellen Moore and, as you know, and rightfully so, our fan base thinks of Kellen as 'the guy.' And I really appreciate and respect how Joe stepped into that role and worked hard and fought hard and unfortunately we all make decisions that aren't the best decisions and, again, those have consequences," Boise athletic director Mark Coyle said of the decision.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

--Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks leads the nation with 1,670 receiving yards and ranks second with 15 touchdown catches playing in what some consider the best conference in college football this year. He'll face a Boise State defense that ranks 73rd in the nation against the pass.

--Oregon State QB Sean Mannion ranks second in the nation in passing yards with 4,403 and third with 36 touchdown passes. He led the Beavers to 35 points in the regular-season finale against Oregon.

--Boise State DE Demarcus Lawrence, a junior, may be playing his final game. He'll need to get some pressure on Mannion to disrupt the Beavers' offense. He leads the team with 10.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss.

--WR Matt Miller could have a monster day against Oregon State's porous defense. In November, he had 30 catches for 430 yards and nine touchdowns.

BOWL HISTORY

Boise State is 9-4 in bowl games and has won four straight, including back-to-back defeats of Pac-12 teams. The Broncos will make their 12th straight bowl appearance. Oregon State is 10-6 in bowl games. The Beavers missed the postseason in 2010 and 2011 and lost to Texas in 2012.
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