|Tony Avelar/Associated Press|
|Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks has made 120 catches for 1,670 yards so far this season.|
In the black and white of the record book, Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks had a brilliant season. But in the Technicolor world of wins and losses, it is fair to ask just how good Cook's All-America and Biletnikoff Award-winning campaign has really been.
The Beavers beat only one team with a winning record in the regular season, a 34-30 comeback win at San Diego State -- a game in which Cooks lost a late fumble. And despite setting a new Pac-12 record with 120 receptions for 1,670 yards and 15 touchdowns, Cooks' effectiveness was decidedly diminished against upper-echelon conference opposition, as Oregon State lost its final five games.
The Hawaii Bowl against Boise State on Tuesday gives Cooks one more chance to turn big production into a big win, a chance to leave a lasting last impression before deciding whether to enter the 2014 NFL Draft.
Cooks (5-foot-10, 186 pounds) is electric with the ball in his hands, excelling on fly sweep runs and after the catch. He's a smooth route runner, too. Broncos cornerbacks Dante Deayon (5-9, 151) and Bryan Douglas (5-9, 178) are likely to find it nearly impossible to keep up with Cooks, even after combining for nine interceptions and 17 pass breakups this season.
Instead, Boise State's best bet will have to be a favorable first impression in the postseason from defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence did not play in the Las Vegas Bowl last season, as he was sent home early for a violation of team rules, but the junior-college transfer has been an explosive pass rusher over the last two seasons with 20 sacks in 22 games.
Lawrence (6-3, 245) should feast on an offensive line that allowed 16 sacks during the team's losing streak, with pressure negating the error-free early-season play of Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion. Mannion threw 11 interceptions in the last month of the season, taking the shine off a 36-touchdown season and almost certainly taking possible early draft entry off the table for the redshirt junior.
Perhaps the most intriguing one-on-one matchup will be Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton against Boise State left tackle Charles Leno. While the Oregon State defense was a sieve, Crichton (6-3, 265) was the only Beaver with double-digit tackles for loss (16), had a team-high 6.5 sacks and looks to be a prototypical 4-3 edge rusher at the next level. Leno (6-4, 295) has started the last 38 games for Boise State, including 25 in a row at left tackle.
Leno's protection will be crucial, as Boise State has two scholarship quarterbacks available after senior and former starter Joe Southwick was suspended.
Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.