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Updated: Thursday, December 26, 2002 11:02 AM EST
NCAA FOOTBALL PREVIEW
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No. 23 Pittsburgh (8-4) vs.oregon St (8-4) Insight
PITTSBURGH PANTHERS
Pittsburgh Panthers
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OREGON ST. BEAVERS
Oregon St. Beavers
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PHOENIX (Ticker) -- A pair of 8-4 teams that ended the season going in opposite directions clash as Oregon State battles No. 23 Pittsburgh in the Insight Bowl at Bank One Ballpark.

Oregon State won its final two regular season games against Stanford and Oregon, while Pittsburgh dropped a pair of tough contests to top-ranked Miami and West Virginia.

The last three years have resembled a roller coaster for the Beavers. After winning a school-record 11 games during the 2000 season and playing in the Fiesta Bowl, Oregon State slipped to 5-6 last season.

The Beavers rebounded this year to earn their third bowl appearance in four years under Dennis Erickson. The eight wins are tied for fourth-most in school history.

Steven Jackson set a school record by rushing for 1,656 yards, the sixth-highest total in Pac-10 history and the highest for a non-Southern California running back.

Jackson rushed for 153 yards in Oregon State's 45-24 victory over Oregon, his fifth straight 100-yard game and ninth of the season, tying Ken Simonton's school mark set in 1999.

Derek Anderson completed 21-of-37 passes for 370 yards and a career-high four touchdowns against the Ducks. Anderson finished the year with 2,994 yards, the second-highest total in school history.

Pittsburgh reached eight wins this year for the first time since 1989 and earned its first national ranking since 1991. The Panthers emerged as a contender in the Big East behind the league's top passing tandem of Rod Rutherford and Larry Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald was named the Big East Rookie of the Year and became the first freshman to be unanimously selected to the league's All-First Team. He led by the Big East in receptions per game (5.33) and receiving touchdowns (11), and ranked second in receiving yards per game (74.4).

The Panthers gave Miami a huge scare on November 21, reaching the Hurricanes 25 in the final minute before falling short, 28-21. The following week, Pittsburgh suffered a 24-17 setback to West Virginia that left it in third place in the Big East.

The Panthers are making their third straight bowl appearance under Walt Harris and fourth in six years, their best run since going to nine straight bowls from 1975-83.

Pittsburgh improved to 8-13 all-time in bowl play with a 34-19 victory over North Carolina State in last year's Tangerine Bowl.

Oregon State is making its first bowl appearance since routing Notre Dame, 41-9, in the Fiesta Bowl following the 2000 season. The Beavers have an all-time bowl mark of 6-2.


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