Rose Bowl: Ohio State Buckeyes VS. Oregon Ducks
ROSE BOWL GAME PRESENTED BY CITI
#8 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2) VS. #7 Oregon Ducks (10-2)
Friday, January 1, 1:30 PM PST
Las Vegas Favorite: Oregon -4.0
Sam’s Take (58 – 23):
One of the most memorable seasons in Oregon football history will come to an end on Friday, as the Ducks are looking to win their first Rose Bowl since 1917. Chip Kelly’s squad has been through it all in 2009, and when you consider how the season started there is no doubt that Kelly and his staff deserve all the praise they have received.
As for The Ohio State University, this game represents yet another opportunity to prove its worth on the big stage. Clearly, marquee non-conference wins have been tough to come by for the Buckeyes, but its important to realize that Jim Tressel’s team is almost always involved in the BCS by seasons end (a commendable achievement). OSU will be making its first Rose Bowl appearance since 1997.
The most exciting match-up to watch for in this one will be the high-octane Ducks offense versus the highly underrated OSU defense. We have watched the Ducks run roughshod over opposing defenses all season, but could this Buckeye defense do what Boise State did all the way back in week one? A look at the numbers reveals a tale of two units that are very evenly matched. The Ducks head to Pasadena with the 7th best scoring offense in the country and the sixth best rushing attack, while the Bucks will counter with a D that ranks 5th nationally in total defense and 5th nationally in run defense. Should be fun right?
While I hold the OSU D in high regard, I don’t think Jim Heacock’s unit has faced a team like Oregon. Attempting to simulate Chip Kelly’s offense with a scout team is fruitless, as there is no way to truly recreate the misdirection. QB Jeremiah Masoli runs the zone read as well as any player in football, and I expect him to have more success this Friday. OSU’s defense is good enough to slow UO down at times, but I expect the quick strike Ducks to be locked in for most of the day.
The OSU offense has been inconsistent all season, and it doesn’t help that QB Terrelle Pryor is playing with a torn PCL (which he believes won’t be an issue). Still, the Buckeyes have a strong enough running game to make things interesting. If OSU can effectively run the ball with Dan Herron and Brandon Saine, Pryor may be able to connect on play action passes rather than using his feet to make plays.
There are plenty of reasons why Ohio State should be incredibly motivated for this game, but I just don’t think they are the better team. Oregon has played at an exceptionally high level in all three phases of the game for the majority of the season, and they have an overabundance of something that has given OSU trouble for the past three years… speed. I expect the Buckeyes to fight hard and make it a game, but I like the Ducks by six.
Prediction: Oregon 30 – Ohio State 24
Ohio State Player to Keep an Eye On: WR DeVier Posey – OSU will need big plays in the passing game, especially if the Oregon offense gets going early. Posey is a prototypical big play receiver with great speed and hands. He led the team in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns.
Oregon Player to Keep an Eye On: DE/LB Kenny Rowe – Rowe has been a terror for opposing QBs all season, as he has racked up 8.5 sacks this season. Ohio State has not blocked players like Rowe very well over the last few years, and I expect his quickness and speed off the edge to disrupt Pryor throughout the game.
Dave’s Take (60 – 21):
No disrespect to THE Ohio State University, but in my honest opinion, the only way Oregon loses this game is if they beat themselves.
Thinking back to the Boise State game, it was clear that the Ducks offense wasn’t up to game speed. Granted, there is a big difference between a full offseason and a month or so, but this offense relies on having it’s timing down pat. If Oregon comes out clicking like they have been since late September, even OSU’s tough D will have trouble keeping the Ducks out of the high 30’s in scoring.
Ohio State has a great football team, but I believe Oregon will be too creative for them to handle on both sides of the ball. Nick Alliotti will be sure to dial up plenty of creative blitz packages to keep Terrelle Pryor (who won’t be at 100%) on his toes, and as I stated before, there just isn’t much to be done against Oregon’s offense, regardless of how strong your defensive unit may be.
Ohio State obviously has a massive chip on their shoulder, but that chip has been there for a few years now and hasn’t gotten them over the top. This year they play an Oregon team that fought their hearts out to win the Pac-10, so I doubt there will be any lack of motivation on their side.
Regardless of the game’s outcome, this bowl season will be chalked up as a disappointment. The losing record is obvious enough, but the ugly fashion in how the games were lost (other than Stanford, who fought hard without Andrew Luck) didn’t help lessen the blow. Furthermore, a win over Ohio State won’t get the Ducks the credit they deserve due to OSU’s recent bowl history; a loss, however, would make a bad bowl season for the Pac-10 a devestating one.
But I don’t think we’ll be seeing an Oregon loss this New Year’s Day. I expect the momentum of the regular season to carry over into a comfortable Ducks victory.
Prediction: Oregon 34 – Ohio State 20