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12/7/2008 8:37 PM
Get ready for Buckeyes vs. Longhorns III
Ohio State, Texas to meet in Fiesta Bowl
Sunday,  December 7, 2008 8:15 PM
Ohio State and Texas, two teams that didn't meet once through the first 135 years of college football, will collide for the third time in four seasons, on Jan.5 in the Fiesta Bowl.

That became official moments ago, when administrators of the Bowl Championship Series announced the matchup of the third-ranked Longhorns (11-1) against the No.10 Buckeyes (10-2) for the Fiesta, staged in University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, in Glendale, Ariz. It's a venue familiar to OSU fans; it's where the Buckeyes were blown out by Florida in the 2006 season's national championship game.

The game against Texas, meanwhile, will be what OSU athletics director Gene Smith referred to as "the rubber match" in the series. Texas won the first meeting, in 2005 in Ohio Stadium, and the Buckeyes returned the favor the following season in Austin.

More than that, Texas is expected to enter with a large chip on its shoulder, considering the Longhorns beat Oklahoma 45-35 in October but missed gaining a berth in the Big 12 title game. Their three-way tie in the league's South division with the Sooners and Texas Tech was decided by which team ranked higher in last week's BCS ratings.

The Sooners edged Texas in the ratings, then went on to blast Missouri on Saturday night in the league title game to earn the berth opposite Florida in the national championship game Jan. 8 in Miami.

Texas, led by Heisman Trophy-contending quarterback Colt McCoy, had its fate in its hands, standing No.1 in the country, when it was upset by Texas Tech the first Saturday night of November.

Ohio State's designs on a great season ended much earlier, on Sept.13, when the Buckeyes -- playing without injured running back Chris "Beanie" Wells -- were overrun 35-3 by Southern California in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Following a change in starting quarterback from senior Todd Boeckman to freshman Terrelle Pryor the next week, the Buckeyes went 8-1 down the stretch, but the 13-6 loss to Penn State wound up costing them a third straight outright Big Ten title.

Instead, they had to settle for a share of a fourth straight crown and hope they would be picked from the at-large pool of the BCS, because Penn State gained the Big Ten's automatic bid to the BCS-sanctioned Rose Bowl.

This will be OSU's fifth trip to a Fiesta Bowl-sponsored game in seven years. The Buckeyes beat Miami in the Fiesta to win the 2002 national championship and returned the next year as an at-large team to beat Kansas State.

OSU was back in the Fiesta as an at-large choice following the 2005 season and went on to thump Charlie Weis-coached Notre Dame. The Buckeyes returned following the 2006 season to take on Florida in the first national title game separated from the bowls but run by the Fiesta officials in what's known as the double-hosting format.

The Fiesta actually had hoped to match Texas and Ohio State for the first time following the 2003 season, pre-empting their much-anticipated first regular-season collision two years later. But when Kansas State upset Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game of 2003, the Wildcats earned the league's automatic berth in the Fiesta.

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New Post
12/8/2008 9:36 AM
College football
Buckeyes hook up with 'Horns
Monday,  December 8, 2008 3:06 AM
<p>The Buckeyes won the 2002 national title at the Fiesta Bowl.</p>

The Buckeyes won the 2002 national title at the Fiesta Bowl.

Considering that the Ohio State football team lost two games this season, the Buckeyes ended up with about the best possible bowl scenario.

Ohio State (10-2) accepted an invitation last night to play in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 5 in Glendale, Ariz. Its opponent will be Texas (11-1), ranked third in the nation and a team that came within a last-second loss of being in the national championship game.

"We have a tremendous opportunity," OSU coach Jim Tressel said last night. "Ohio State and Texas -- I don't know, it doesn't get much better than that."

It is the fifth time in seven years the Buckeyes are headed to the Phoenix area for a bowl game. It's the scene of one of their greatest wins -- over Miami (Fla.) for the 2002 national title -- and one of their most humiliating losses -- to Florida for the 2006 title.

Despite being two of the nation's most storied programs, Ohio State and Texas have met only twice -- in 2005 in Columbus (Texas won, 25-22) and 2006 in Austin, Texas (OSU won, 24-7).

This is the fourth straight season OSU has played in the Bowl Championship Series game. Only Southern California (seven straight) and Miami (four) have accomplished that.

"I'm so proud of our seniors, to think that they've done nothing but go to BCS games," Tressel said.

Although Ohio State will be making its fifth bowl appearance in the Phoenix area in the last seven years, local travel agents were optimistic that fans would still travel to Arizona to see their team.

"Buckeye fans have loved Phoenix in the past and I think they'll love it again," said Dave Matthews of Prime Tours in Dublin.

The real question mark, Matthews said, is the economy.

"Some people who are saving their pennies will be happy to see that this game will cost a fraction of what the last two games did," he said.

Ike Reynolds of Reynolds Travel in Columbus said ticket prices for last year's national championship game in New Orleans were starting in the $600-$700 range.

"I think this year you won't see tickets much over face value."

A travel package to the BSC Championship Game last year that cost $2,700 will cost about $1,900 to this year's Fiesta Bowl, Reynolds said.

"And a great opponent like Texas really draws people to the game, too," he said.

More Buckeyes will travel to the Fiesta Bowl than would have gone to the second-tier Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Reynolds said.

"Not taking anything away from the Capital One Bowl, but this year, the expectations for the team were so high that ending up there would have been a major disappointment, I think."

But a trip to the Rose Bowl, last visited by the Buckeyes in 1997, would have been even better, said Robin and Susan Schneider, owners of Twin Horizons Travel in Dublin.

"We would have been swamped," Susan Schneider said.

"I'd love our phones to ring off the hook but I'm not expecting it."

In any case, Ohio State fans should be happy that their team has been chosen so often for a major bowl, said Matthews, who also is selling a package for the Orange Bowl, where the University of Cincinnati will be playing in its first BCS game.

"Talking to some of the travel agents in Cincinnati, it's like they're kind of mystified by the whole thing. It's like, 'Oh, a bowl game can be a big deal? People would want to go to a bowl game?' "

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