Monday, January 5, 2009

Fiesta Bowl preview

By Rick Morris

Ohio State tries this evening to recover its national reputation when it comes to big-time intersectional matchups. Memories of the 2002 national title victory have faded in recent years as humiliations against Florida, LSU and USC have played out on the national scene. Even the 2005 season, which saw a stirring Fiesta Bowl victory, has seemed tainted somewhat in retrospect by the fact that the win came against a collapsing Notre Dame program. Tonight will either mark the beginning of OSU's regaining of self-respect among the NCAA elite or will be another blow to the reputation of the Buckeyes and the Big Ten. Meanwhile, the game may hinge in large part on how much Texas really wants to be here. If they are still enveloped in pouting about having been shut out of the national title game, they'll provide a window for Ohio State.

Here's the preview from CBS Sports.

OSU's offense relies on the running of ace Chris Wells to take the pressure off of freshman wunderkind QB Terrelle Pryor -- but stopping the run is a strength of the Longhorns. Ultimately, the Buckeye offensive line has been bum-rushed in every one of the aforementioned big games, and if they are tonight, neither the run nor the pass will succeed.

Conversely, Ohio State has struggled to contain big-time offenses in these games and they'll be facing a completely different Colt McCoy than they did in 2006.

Essentially in a game like this, when a team establishes a pattern the way that Ohio State has, you have to believe that you'll see more when they match up with a Sun Belt team again. The guess is that Texas pulls away for a 34-17 win.

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