#8 Ohio State v #7 Oregon
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
It’s almost impossible to wrap one’s brain around the fact that this is Ohio State’s first Rose Bowl in 12 years (1997). It’s been 13 for the Ducks (1996) but Ohio State has been so good under head coach Jim Tressel’s watch that it’s hard to believe. The 2010 Rose Bowl features the high powered Oregon offense and the ever stout Buckeye Silver Bullet defense. Ohio State is on a three game losing streak in bowl games and Oregon is 1-6 in Rose Bowls and 0-7 all-time against the Buckeyes. This game means so much to both programs and emotions will be running high. The Granddaddy of the All will have a classic Big Ten v Pac Ten showdown that could turn out to be one for the ages.
The Oregon defense is ok and the Ohio State offense is suspect but if head coach Jim Tressel is able to play his signature ball-control turnover-free offense the Buckeyes will have a great chance of scoring enough points to win the game. Good old “TresselBall” was able stifle the effective and powerful Iowa and Penn State squads. Oregon’s defense has been steady allowing only 23.6 points per game but has been burned by teams with solid running games. In the last five games of the season, the Buckeye offense has been reeled in and less pressure has been put on quarterback Terrell Pryor. Pryor has some growing yet to do before he becomes an elite quarterback and will get limited opportunities to stretch the field vertically. The a solid running attack by Pryor and running backs Brandon Saine and Boom Herron will be the flavor of the game for the Buckeyes.
The Lightening and Thunder duo of LaMichael James and LeGarrette Blount will be a major threat to the Buckeye defense. James is small (5’9” 189lbs) but incredibly fast. If the Buckeye defense can get an arm on him, he should go down easily. Blount on the other hand is a force and will pound the ball between the tackles while using his deceptive speed to make the Buckeye defense pay for sloppy tackling. The running back tandem is complimented by a superb passing and receiving game. Jeremiah Masoli is a dual threat quarterback and runs the Duck’s spread offense masterfully by spreading defenses horizontally and using short quick passes to gain huge chunks of yardage. The surest way to stop Oregon’s spread attack is to play disciplined assignment football, don’t get overly aggressive against the option and make precision tackles.
This one is a classic strength on strength will be one for the ages. Ohio State’s mighty defense allows an average of 12.2 points per game while Oregon’s high powered offense averages 37.7 points per game. The key will be the Ohio State offense and if can sustain long drives and keep the Duck’s offense off the field.
Prediction: OSU 23 – UO 13
Why OSU will win:
-A well executed Tressel-Ball strategy will win the game. A ball control offense will limit the Ducks offensive opportunities.
-Tackling is the key on defense. Swarm to the ball carrier, get a hand on him and don’t let go. Sacrifice the big hit for the sure stop.
Why OSU will lose:
-Offensive turnovers; the Buckeye offense will beat itself if it can’t hold on to the ball.
-Poor tackling and over pursuit. If the Bucks don’t wrap up the Ducks at their first opportunity, Oregon will make Ohio State pay with big gains.
Bold prediction for the game:
-I might have Scarlet colored glasses for this one but the Buckeye defense will hold the Oregon rushing offense to under 150 yards.
Crazy stats of the game:
-The last time the Big Ten won in Pasadena was in 2000; Wisconsin over Stanford 17-9.
-Oregon has only one victory in six Rose Bowl appearances (1914 versus Penn, 14-0).
-OSU is 7-0 versus Oregon.
Last time they met…
1987: Ohio State over Oregon 24-14.
Duck players to watch:
Freshman RB #2 LaMichael James
Senior RB #9 LeGarrette Blount
Junior QB #8 Jeremiah Masoli
Junior WR #23 Jeff Maehl
Senior TE #83 Ed Dickson
Junior LB #55 Casey Matthews
Junior LB #35 Spencer Paysinger
Sophomore LB #11 Eddie Pleasant
Junior LB #58 Kenny Rowe
Freshman FS #20 John Boyett
Sophomore CB #14 Javes Lewis
Junior CB #37 Talmadge Jackson