Sugar Bowl Preview

January 4, 2011

Rich Rod is out at Michigan, but Jim Harbaugh is “unlikely” to accept a head coaching job in Ann Arbor. I’ll believe that once he announces his intentions to go elsewhere, or decides to stay at Stanford.

Although I correctly picked Stanford to beat Virginia Tech last night, I may be unable to win my College Bowl Mania group. Some of the leaders in my group have too many points left, and regardless of how well I do these next six days, will probably not be able to catch them. However, it would still feel pretty good to correctly pick the rest of the games.

Here is my pick for the January 4th bowl game.

Allstate Sugar Bowl

Ohio State vs. Arkansas

Far too big a deal is being made over Jim Tressel’s decision to start the five Buckeye players that will sit out the first five games of next season. Far too big a deal is also being made over the Buckeyes being the last chance for the Big 10 to save face this season, after a poor New Year’s Day performance.

To address the first issue, Tressel doesn’t have a choice. There is a reason that the five players are going to start tonight, and it has to do with the color green. If you don’t understand, then maybe you should read this.

As for the Big 10 needing Ohio State’s help to save face, I don’t buy that. If you take a look at those bowl games, it is clear that the Big 10 came into most of those games as underdogs. Northwestern? Didn’t have their starting quarterback, but still almost managed to beat Texas Tech. Penn State? Not very many people thought they were all that good going into this game; was it really that surprising that a Florida team that wanted to send Urban Meyer out with a win beat a mediocre Nittany Lion team? Michigan State? Okay, the way they lost was somewhat embarrassing, but they were going up against Alabama, who still may be the best team in the nation. Michigan? They shouldn’t have even been in a New Year’s Day bowl game. Wisconsin? They beat themselves. Where was John Clay the entire game?

The 2011 Sugar Bowl, instead, is about Arkansas’ offense against Ohio State’s defense. If the Buckeyes want to win this game, defensive coordinator Jim Heacock is going to have to go against his better judgment and blitz. Blitzing is how Alabama rattled Ryan Mallett in the second half and caused him to throw crucial interceptions, and blitzing is necessary in order for the Buckeyes to avoid being carved up by Mallett tonight.

This game will not be decided by the play of Terrelle Pryor. Instead, it will come down to how well the Ohio State defense plays against the Arkansas offense. Both teams will score. However, if Ohio State comes after Mallett, then they should be able to slow down the Razorback offense and come out on the winning end.

I have Ohio State for 23 points tonight, and unlike many people, I’m confident in my pick. It should be a close game, but if Heacock blitzes, then the Buckeyes should win. If he decides to lay back and let Mallett throw, it may be a very difficult game for Ohio State to win.

Final Score: 34-31 Ohio State

– K. Becks

2 Responses to Sugar Bowl Preview

  1. Amanwhoknowsnothing on January 5, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Pretty darn close in that score prediction and I must say that you were spot on with the blitz to force interceptions. All season I have been saying that this Ohio State team is just a bunch of kids with talent. Before this game none of their game play seemed to mean anything to them (or so it seemed) because they always thought they were going to win. However, I was blown away by the performance of all the players especially Pryor who managed to throw some amazing passes.

    • K. Becks on January 7, 2011 at 6:34 pm

      They definitely baited Mallett into making that last throw. It was a good defensive performance, and although Terrelle Pryor won the game’s MVP award, I think that Cam Heyward should have been considered as the MVP as well.

      I really don’t think that Pryor made all that many great passes, though. The TD to Sanzenbacher looked great, but really it was just a result of the Arkansas defender not knowing that the ball was even being thrown (go back and look at the play. He was flailing around, and had no idea what was going on). Then, in the second half, Pryor didn’t do anything through the air, which has pretty much been the story his entire career in big games.

      The bottom line is, while Pryor is a freak athlete, he still has not shown the ability to throw the ball, and defenses do not respect his ability to throw. That is why I don’t know how much of a future he has in the NFL (some may say he could play some other position, but I don’t think his ego would allow that). That is also why I don’t think the Buckeyes will be all that worse off without him for the first fives games of next season.

      Regardless, it was still a good game by Ohio State.

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