El Paso, Texas So far, the Pac-10 is getting kicked around in the bowl season. Oregon State safety Sabby Piscitelli said losses by Arizona State in the Hawaii Bowl and Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl were well-deserved.
"It's a little rough," Piscitelli said Tuesday. "It just looked like some teams weren't even prepared to play."
Coach Mike Riley's team will get its chance to boost conference pride on Friday against Missouri in the Sun Bowl. He was a lot more diplomatic assessing the situation.
"There's good teams everywhere, and we're playing a very solid, very good, very well-coached team, and we'll have to play very well to win," Riley said. "It's just like every game, it's how you play on that given day."
Hawaii beat Arizona State, 41-24, on Saturday and Brigham Young spanked Oregon, 38-8, on Dec. 21.
"That's their problem; I don't really care," running back Yvenson Bernard said. "I just worry about Oregon State."
Oregon State (9-4) takes a three-game winning streak into its game against Missouri (8-4), only the second meeting between the programs and first since 1956.
Two other Pac-10 teams get a chance to reverse the 0-2 conference start before the Beavers, with UCLA (7-5) playing Florida State (6-6) today in the Emerald Bowl and California (9-3) taking on Texas A&M (9-3) on Thursday in the Holiday Bowl.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel is impressed with a team that avoids mistakes on offense and leads its conference in turnover ratio and sacks.
"The other thing is they won a lot of close games," Pinkel said. "That certainly says a lot about the character of their team and the good job Mike has done."
Riley said his team's passion for the game never had been in doubt, even coming off a long layoff. Oregon State finished the regular season and qualified for its third bowl in four seasons with a 35-32 victory at No. 24 Hawaii on Dec. 2.
"One of the main things is really taking advantage of the opportunity to really be well-prepared, and then not getting stale so that you hit that game at the right surge," Riley said. "I think finding the balance is big."
That said, Riley believes his players have maximized practice time all year.
"I said that way back in spring practice, and I said that when we were 2-3," Riley said. "These guys have good intentions, they work hard, and that's what got us here."