Ready For Its Debut
A season ago several new bowl games were set to debut. However, like a lot of things in 2020, COVID-19 had other ideas. Many games ended up being canceled including the one that’s now sponsored by a late-night talk show host. Yes, you read that correctly. One year later let’s get you ready for what should be a really good match-up between Oregon State and Utah State with our 2021 LA Bowl Preview.
A Word From Our Sponsor
In case you haven’t heard the LA Bowl will be held at SoFi Stadium on Saturday night at 7:30 pm ET. It’s televised by ABC and the sponsor is Jimmy Kimmel, the late-night talk show host. In July of 2019 plans for the game were announced with tie-ins to the Mountain West and Pac-12. Three weeks before its scheduled debut on December 30, 2020, it was canceled due to COVID-19.
However, on June 16 of this year, it was renamed the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl in a naming rights agreement with the comedian. Following the announcement, Kimmel said he didn’t think there’s ever been a bowl game named after a person.
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) June 17, 2021
He’s partially correct as it’s the first bowl named for a living figure. But if you go back to 1947 the first and only Will Rogers Bowl (not the Mississippi State quarterback) was held in Oklahoma City. It lasted only one year. Investment banking firm Stifel was added as a presenting sponsor.
Now that we’ve told you how this game came about let’s look at the teams as we continue our 2021 LA Bowl Preview.
Scouting The Beavers
Oregon State heads into Saturday’s match-up with a 7-5 record and a 5-4 mark in the Pac-12 North. However, Jonathan Smith’s team’s resume features wins over conference champion Utah and Arizona State. Its bread and butter is the running game where the Beavers rank 12th in the country averaging 217 yards per game. A big part of that comes from junior B.J. Baylor, who led the Pac-12 with 1,259 yards on the ground. That also puts him 14th in the nation. In addition, he ran for 13 touchdowns.
Chance Nolan is the Oregon State starting quarterback. During the 2021 campaign, he completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,414 yards and nine interceptions. His favorite target is Trevon Bradford, who hauled in 40 catches for 606 yards and five scores. The Beavers are very strong up front and will put a lot of points on the board. The biggest question is can they stop Utah State? The OSU defense allowed 241 yards per game through the air, 87th in all of college football. Statistically, it is one of the worst defenses on third downs while the Aggies led the Mountain West in third down conversions.
Now that we’ve previewed Oregon State, as we continue with our 2021 LA Bowl Preview let’s look at the Mountain West champions.
Looking At the Aggies
Coach Blake Anderson’s team heads to LA sporting a 10-3 record. In addition, they were one of the biggest success stories in 2021. One year after struggling through a 1-5 COVID season Utah State hired the former Arkansas State coach who turned the program around in just his first season. Heading into the Mountain West title game the Aggies were underdogs against San Diego State. In fact, we here at Last Word had them slotted for the Hawaii Bowl. However, they dominated the game from the start handing the Aztecs a 46-13 loss that sent them to Los Angeles.
The main man on the offense is quarterback Logan Bonner, who followed his coach from Jonesboro to Logan (the city). On the year the junior threw for 3,554 yards and 36 touchdowns. He ended up leading the league in touchdowns thrown and third in yards. Senior Deven Thompkins is his favorite target. With 96 receptions for 1,589 yards and 15 touchdowns, Thompkins ranked near the top in each of those categories. In addition to Thompkins, three other receivers had over 30 catches including senior Derek Wright who had 45 and led the MVC with 11 touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, the Aggies also have questions on defense. Teams that run the ball well have done so against Utah State including Wyoming who ripped off 363 yards on the ground and 602 overall in a 48-17 win. That seems to play right into Oregon State’s hands.
We’ve looked at both teams and given you some players to watch. It’s time to tell you who’s going to win in our 2021 LA Bowl Preview.
Who Wins On Saturday?
As mentioned earlier both teams are strong on offense and have questions on defense. Because of that, the inaugural LA Bowl should be a lot of fun to watch. The two schools have met three times in history with the Beavers winning all three. However, they haven’t played since 1998. This is Oregon State’s first bowl game since beating Boise State in the 2013 Hawaii Bowl. On the other side of the ball, the Aggies are 1-3 in their last four bowl games and have never beaten a Power Five school. Their one recent win was a 52-13 win over North Texas in the 2018 New Mexico Bowl. Look for a close game for at least a half before the Beavers pull away. Utah State beat Washington State, a Pac-12 team, way back in week one. However, the Aggies won’t make it two for two.
Oregon State 31-21
Thanks for checking out our 2021 LA Bowl Preview here at Last Word On College Football. A friendly reminder we’ll have previews and recaps of every bowl game leading up to the big one on January 10th.
Image courtesy of Forbes.