EL PASO, Texas (AP) -- Comparisons are inevitable for Pittsburgh tailback LeSean McCoy. After all, the super sophomore plays at the school that produced 1976 Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett.
But it's not that simple, coach Dave Wannstedt cautioned Tuesday.
"He has a little bit of what Ricky Williams does. He has a little bit of Tony Dorsett, who I played with," said Wannstedt, a former Pitt offensive tackle. "He has a little bit of Emmitt Smith, and Rashaan Salaam, another Heisman Trophy winner."
Yet through it all, McCoy has been his own man, Wannstedt said.
"He has his own style. All the great backs, they all do," the coach said. "He is a combination of the great ones, but I think he is also his own guy."
Still, the Dorsett analogy fits in El Paso like a tamale on a combination plate.
As No. 18 Pitt (9-3) prepares to play Wednesday against No. 24 Oregon State (8-4) in the Sun Bowl, its first bowl game in four seasons under Wannstedt, old-timers are reminiscing about the 1975 game.
That year, Dorsett had 27 carries for 142 yards and two touchdowns as the Panthers beat Kansas 33-19 in the Sun Bowl.
McCoy ranked No. 10 nationally this fall, averaging 116.9 yards rushing per game. His 35 rushing TDs are a school record for a player through his sophomore season, breaking the mark Dorsett set with 24 from 1973-74.
"To be mentioned with Mr. Dorsett is excellent," McCoy said. "That's someone anybody would want to be mentioned with."
There's even a little more Pittsburgh history going on because the Panthers are seeking their first 10-win season since quarterback Dan Marino led the way to an 11-1 record in 1981.
Oregon State, meanwhile, is still giddy about a thrilling 39-38 victory over Missouri two years ago in the Sun Bowl. The Beavers scored a touchdown with 22 seconds remaining and added a gutsy 2-point conversion.
"That's a beautiful story," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said.
This is the 75th Sun Bowl, making it the nation's second-oldest postseason game behind the Rose Bowl.
Speaking of the Rose Bowl, it will be interesting to see how the Beavers bounce back after missing out on a trip to Pasadena.
"Everybody wondered about that," said Riley, who is 4-0 in bowl games since starting his second stint at Oregon State in 2003.
The Beavers beat USC 27-21 on Sept. 25 but whiffed on the Pac-10 title with a 65-38 loss to Oregon last month.
Riley, who was rewarded with a one-year contract extension during his visit to El Paso, figured he'd know how much his team wanted to play after judging their enthusiasm and commitment to details in practice.
"I've been impressed by that," he said. "Once you find out where you're slotted, you just go full speed ahead. There's no room for babies after that."
Oregon State won't have two of its offensive standouts. Running back Jacquizz Rodgers and his brother, receiver James Rodgers, are both out with late-season shoulder injuries.
Riley said it presents a great opportunity for backup tailback Ryan McCants, who started the season finale against Oregon.
"He has played quite a bit and I think he's a good back," Riley said.
Wannstedt was asked about Oregon State's apparent problems at running back and responded by focusing on the passing game. Lyle Moevao has completed 60 percent of his throws for 2,341 yards and 19 TDs.
"They're No. 1 in their conference in passing, and that doesn't happen by accident," Wannstedt said. "It's a compliment to Mike and his offensive line coach that they've given up 12 sacks in 12 games."
AccuScore has powered more than 10,000 simulations for every College Football game on ESPN.com, calculating how each team's performance changes in response to game conditions and opponent's abilities. Each game is simulated and the game is replayed a minimum of 10,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages.
These two started slowly, got on a roll, then suffered late-season disappointment, as both were in the running for BCS bowls. The running backs might be the key in this one. The Beavers' defense needs to get off the carpet and slow down LeSean McCoy, while the Panthers will need to concern themselves with Jacquizz Rodgers. -- Ted Miller