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ARKANSAS vs. OHIO STATE
Five Key Factors October 22, 2010 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "Pryor's head: This is Issue No.1 for the entire Ohio State team because of everything swirling around the program the past two weeks...particularly crucial for Pryor. He did not seem unusually rattled during recent interviews and practice sessions. His ability to block out off-the-field distractions is a big unknown. Also a danger to OSU: That he's so focused on answering his critics, he tries to do too much.
Who can run?: Both teams need to establish the running game to take pressure off their quarterback. Both teams have seen running backs emerge as the season went along...Both teams also have quality offensive lines. It would seem that a good ground game is more ingrained in Ohio State's DNA than in Arkansas'...
Hammer Mallett: It will be interesting to see how much Ohio State chooses to blitz...Buckeyes have not been a big blitzing team this year...also have not faced a big-time drop-back passer like Mallett...the Buckeyes may choose to be more aggressive. One thing is certain: If well-protected, Mallett can pick anyone apart.
Fine lines: In both of OSU's recent bowl-game defeats at the hands of Southeastern Conference teams, the SEC schools were clearly superior at the line of scrimmage. Ohio State has a faster, athletic defensive line now, but can it hold up against a strong Arkansas running game?...the onus is on the Buckeyes to prove that one of the Big Ten's elite teams can handle an SEC defensive front.
Play keep-away: This has double meaning for Ohio State. First, it refers to turnovers, or a lack thereof. The Buckeyes have been stellar this season with a plus-14 turnover margin, and they have lost just two fumbles. Arkansas, meanwhile, is plus-2. The other meaning is in time of possession. In its win over Oregon last year, OSU kept the ball for 40-plus minutes, limiting their exposure to the Ducks' prolific offense..."
On the Edge: Dispatch beat writers Ken Gordon and Tim May predict which team has the edge in this week's game. See if you agree..."
Sugar Bowl -- Ohio State vs. Arkansas: What to watch January 3, 2011 Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer - "...1. The best game of the year from Ohio State linebacker Ross Homan: In their one loss this season, the OSU linebackers were overmatched, consistently blocked by Wisconsin offensive linemen who found them and blew them off the play. Homan got hurt that game, too, and his hopes of an All-American senior season were gone. Now, the Buckeyes need him to play to that level in the Sugar Bowl, and the fifth-year senior is in a position to do it...Homan had eight tackles against Michigan. If he's active and aggressive early, that's a great sign for the Buckeyes. "It took a while but I think the Michigan game was the first game I really felt like 100 percent," Homan said. "I'm feeling great in practice and looking forward to the game."
2. Ohio State holding on to the ball: ...Ohio State leads the nation with just two fumbles lost, thanks in large part to No. 1 running back Dan Herron, who carried the ball 192 times this season and 434 times in his career without giving it up...In a tight game, turnovers can always make the difference, and there Ohio State has an edge. The Buckeyes lead the nation with two lost fumbles this season, and those two were by backups when games were out of reach...Arkansas, in comparison, is plus-2, losing the ball 23 times (nine fumbles, 14 interceptions) and taking it away 25 times...
3. Arkansas and the tight end:...Williams especially affects Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallet, serving as his favorite target. A lasting memory of LSU's win over Ohio State in New Orleans three years ago was the Tigers' success with the tight end, and they didn't have Williams. The Razorbacks' tight end won the Mackey Award as the best tight end in the country and leads Arkansas with 49 catches. He has 147 catches and 1,817 receiving yards in his career. "They tend to create mismatches that sometimes they're too fast for the linebackers or too big for the safeties," OSU safety Jermale Hines said of 6-foot-2, 251-pound Williams, "so we need to do a good job of getting them different looks...
4. More than the speed: Ohio State mostly cops to the fact that Arkansas is the fastest team the Buckeyes have faced this season. Sideline to sideline, Ohio State said the Razorbacks defenders can run. But watch out for head to head. It's the size and strength of the Buckeyes on the lines that concerns Arkansas...Ohio State definitely needs a pass rush from its defensive lineman. But if the OSU offensive linemen are having their way and moving the Arkansas defense around, you'll really know the Buckeyes are in good shape..."
Sugar Bowl keys for Ohio State January 3, 2011 Source: ESPN - "Let's look at three keys for Ohio State in Tuesday night's matchup against Arkansas in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
1. Remain united: We've seen what happens to teams that enter bowl games with the wrong mind-set, and it ain't pretty. Ohio State has had to deal with the suspensions distraction for the past 10 days, and the fact that marquee players like Terrelle Pryor are involved doesn't help matters. But the Buckeyes have a large group of seniors and good overall leadership. They need those voices to be heard in the locker room and make sure the team focuses on the task at hand -- beating Arkansas and ending all the talk of 0-9 against the SEC in bowls.
2. Bend but don't break: Ryan Mallett and the Arkansas offense will move the ball and make plays in the pass game. But Ohio State is extremely stingy near the goal line, leading the Big Ten and tying for seventh nationally in red zone defense (70.4 percent scores). The Buckeyes have allowed only five passing touchdowns in the red zone and only 27 red zone opportunities. So it's imperative for Ohio State to make Arkansas work on every scoring drive and prevent explosion plays.
3. Get Boom and run game going: Pryor's performance is always important, but Dan Herron might be the key to this game for Ohio State. Herron was exceptional down the stretch in Big Ten play, establishing himself as one of the league's better featured running backs. Arkansas' defense is average against the run, ranking 66th nationally (157.4 ypg allowed), so Ohio State's offensive line will have opportunities to get Herron going, control the clock and keep Mallett on the sideline."
Six more Ohio State players - kicker Devin Barclay, return man Jordan Hall, defensive back Orhian Johnson, long snapper Jake McQuaide, defensive tackle John Simon and linebacker Andrew Sweat - met with the media Sunday afternoon at the team hotel. The player interviews represented the last of the 22 such interviews Ohio State players engaged in at the 2011 Allstate Sugar Bowl. They were conducted at the team hotel rather than after practice because the team chose not to travel to the New Orleans Saints' practice facility for what would have been a typical "Thursday" walk-through session. Instead, the Buckeye players had morning meetings and then additional afternoon team responsibilities at the hotel. A few quotes from the interview session..."
Defensive Players Interviews at the Sugar Bowl Source: OSU Official Site 12/31/10
Pressure is key for OSU defense; Sack totals don't tell whole story, Buckeyes say January 1, 2011 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "...It's going to be crucial to get pressure on him," defensive tackle Dexter Larimore said. "If he sits back there and just throws the ball whenever he wants, I don't think you can really beat this team." On paper, that does not appear to be a strength of Ohio State's defense. The Buckeyes have 19 sacks - or 1.58 per game, which ranks them tied for 88th nationally...But anyone who watched Ohio State this season realizes those numbers are deceiving. Opposing quarterbacks weren't exactly sitting in the pocket and eating bonbons all day.
First, more than one opponent tried to avoid pressure by throwing mostly quick, short passes. This low-risk, low-reward strategy actually did the Buckeyes a favor: They have given up just seven touchdown passes this season, the fewest in the country. When quarterbacks did try to throw downfield, they were often under duress, either throwing the ball away to avoid a sack, or - more damaging - heaving a poor throw into coverage because they were about to get flattened.
"We lead the nation in pressure right now," Heyward said. "We're not getting the sacks we want, but I think that's a big thing for us. We're just a step short, a guy missing a tackle here and there." And even though pressure is not a statistic that can be quantified, it makes a huge difference.
"You tend to notice when (quarterbacks) get hit, hit, hit in the first quarter, then the second, third, fourth quarter they get happy feet," safety Jermale Hines said. "They start throwing the ball anywhere, not following through on their throws, things like that." And that, of course, leads to mistakes. Not only are the Buckeyes stingy about surrendering touchdown passes, but their 18 interceptions rank them 10th nationally..."
Two Miami Air charter B737s transported members of the No. 6 ranked Ohio State football team and its support and administrative staffs to New Orleans, site of the 2011 Allstate Sugar Bowl in six days, Wednesday morning..."
Sugar Bowl Preview: The Arkansas Offense v. OSU Defense December 30, 2010 Source: Along the Olentangy - "...The most intriguing match-up (at least on paper) in this Sugar Bowl is the Arkansas offense v. OSU defense...The Petrino Offense: Pro-Style and Multiple The Arkansas offense utilizes--more than any team left in major college football--a multiple pro-style offense. (Though the OSU offense utilizes many of the same elements). Arkansas employs the typical pro-style personnel and formation groupings one would expect (with a dozen videos):...What makes Arkansas and Petrino different than much of current college football, however, is that Petrino looks to throw the ball vertically. Arkansas looks to attack the deep segment of zone coverages, in particular with 3-verticals, 4-verticals, and 'Mills.' These are designed for cover 2, cover 3, and cover-4, respectively...
The OSU Response: OSU thus faces a potent Arkansas attack. But the OSU defense has repeatedly demonstrated its mettle as well, and several aspects of this match-up bode well for the Buckeyes. For all the superlatives cited above, Arkansas' offense can have difficulty sustaining drives. Instead, they are reliant upon big pass plays for scores...Against Arkansas' big-play reliant offense is Ohio State, a defense that consistently leads the country in not giving up plays for 20 or more yards. Jim Heacock's philosophy is predicated on not allowing big plays, making opposing offenses sustain drives, and then turning up the pressure in the red zone...Ryan Mallet's arm strength is also his weakness. Because he can make any throw, he will try to force balls into those deep out windows, leading to interceptions (more videos)...
Conclusion: In sum, while Arkansas utilizes a great offensive scheme and has talented skill position players, this is a good match-up for the OSU defense. When Arkansas has the football it will come down to who can establish their style of play. If OSU can keep Mallett off-balance and force Arkansas into turnovers and negative plays, the OSU defense has the potential for another successful bowl season. Look for part II of my Sugar Bowl preview, where I take a look at the match-up when OSU has the football..."
ESPN Bowl Selection Special: Sugar Bowl
Redemption Song: After falling short in back-to-back BCS title games, Ohio State turned a corner last season. The Buckeyes have an opportunity to make a statement against a talented Arkansas team.
The Razorbacks: The Skill Positions December 28, 2010 Source: Eleven Warriors - "..."DJ Williams (see below)...The Razorbacks' leading receiver, Jarius Wright is one of two legitimate deep threats in the Hogs receiving corps...Where (OSU will) have to excel against Wright is throwing him off his routes at the LOS, and if they fail there, then they'll have to disrupt his ability to turn the short grab into a long gain...Joe Adams
was arguably Mallett's best target through the first six games of the season, excelling in road situations at Auburn and Georgia. An ankle injury forced him to miss the game against Vanderbilt, and he's been relatively quiet ever since, with just 11 catches for 149 yards over the final four games of the season. He'll be in healthier shape for the Sugar Bowl...While Adams, Williams and Wright have been more productive, Cobi Hamilton turned into a genuine gamebreaker over the course of the season. After totaling 4 receptions of the first four weeks of the season, Hamilton exploded with 27 catches for 544 yards over the next 8 games, including a masterful 7 catch, 111-yard effort against the South Carolina Gamecocks...It's unlikely that Chekwa and/or Torrence will be isolated against Hamilton often, so the Buckeyes' other DBs...will have to play the game of their young lives to keep Hamilton under wraps...Knile Davis is more or less the missing cog in the Arkansas offense: whereas Petrino's offenses his first two years found their numbers hurt by weaksauce running-back-by-committee-approaches and a general lack of talent at the position, the 2010 Arkansas offense discovered a number-one tailback mid-season and rode him to 2nd in the SEC in total offense, behind only Auburn. He was instrumental in key wins over South Carolina and LSU and finally made the Hogs into a multi-dimensional, versatile offense that can excel, even when Mallett throws a couple of INTs..."
Arkansas tight end concerns Buckeyes, Mackey Award winner has 144 career receptions December 22, 2010 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "..."That guy is probably the most athletic tight end I've seen," said Rolle, an Ohio State linebacker. "I didn't know about him until I looked at film and I was like, 'He's all right.' It's going to be a tremendous challenge." Williams is more than "all right" - he's one of the many reasons why the Razorbacks have the nation's third-ranked passing offense (338.4 yards per game) heading into the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4 against Ohio State....Most teams employ a tight end. But some use them primarily for blocking, or for short, outlet passes as a safety valve for the quarterback. But teams such as Arkansas that feature good tight ends can operate at a higher level on offense. They are an X factor that adds an element of danger for defenses. "There's a big difference (between an average and good tight end)," OSU safety Jermale Hines said. "With (an average) tight end, when he run-blocks for a second, you automatically get your eyes in the backfield. With a tight end like (Williams), if he gives a little block, you have to keep your eyes on him and slow your reads." Williams is 6 feet 2, 251 pounds and can run. He won the Mackey Award recently, given to the nation's top tight end, for his 49-catch, 589-yard, four-touchdown season this year..."
Dane Sanzenbacher Talks Sugar Bowl with Media Source: OSU Official Site 12/15/10
Buckeyes study up on Mallett December 16, 2010 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "The more Jermale Hines watches video of Arkansas and its quarterback Ryan Mallett, the more the safety likes what he sees as Ohio State prepares for its opponent in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4. "This is a more pro-style offense, so it's more like real football, as I would say," Hines surmised. Arkansas has an offense in the classic sense, with the towering Mallett preferring to stay in the pocket and launch to a fleet of talented receivers. The Razorbacks also have the country's best tight end, John Mackey award-winner D.J. Williams, and 1,000-yard running back Knile Davis. "Sometimes they have a fullback in there, sometimes they have two tight ends in there, three tight ends," Ohio State linebacker Ross Homan said. "So it really is kind of a smash-mouth game they can play at times. "This is by far the best offense we've played against all year, so we're taking it as a huge challenge for our defense and working on it every day in practice."...
What the Buckeyes had done, Hines said, was crazily study the Ducks' tendencies. But stopping them was more about fighting the tendency to chase their offense. "You knew everything they were going to do, and the big part against an offense like that was just basically staying at home," Hines said. Mallett, on the other hand, is no Masoli or even McCoy. Ohio State fans may remember him from his freshman season at Michigan, when he was the understudy to Chad Henne and thrust into the fray several times as Henne dealt with a shoulder injury. The 6-foot-7 Mallett prefers to throw from the pocket but almost always with the threat that Davis could take an inside handoff or an outside pitch..."
Ohio State senior linebacker Brian Rolle talks about facing Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl and the way the OSU defense has played in recent bowl games. Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer 12/14/10
Ohio State's recent defensive success in bowls provides confidence in Sugar Bowl matchup vs. Arkansas December 14, 2010 Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer - "No team has beaten Oregon since last January, and only one defense -- Cal in a 15-13 loss to the Ducks -- has controlled Oregon's offense this season the way the Buckeyes controlled Oregon in their 26-17 win in last year's Rose Bowl...This is where it matters. Texas had a 44-point per game Big 12 passing spread offense two bowls ago. Oregon had a 38-point per game Pac-10 all-out offensive sprint last season. Now Arkansas has a 37-point per game SEC pro-style balanced attack. Once again, Ohio State's bowl test is first about stopping the other team. In holding the Longhorns to a season-low point total in a 24-21 loss and clamping down on the Ducks -- both teams scoring 20 points less than their season average -- the Buckeyes' recent bowl trend has been if given a month, they'll find a way to trip you up...
The 10-2 Razorbacks are a different beast. While Mallett, justifiably, is the first name that always comes up on offense, Arkansas has evolved into a fairly balanced pro-style attack in the second half of the season. Running back Knile Davis has averaged 148 yards in his last six games behind a sizeable offensive line, and the way the Razorbacks have pushed defenses around looked even a bit like Wisconsin, the team that steamrollered OSU for a half this season and handed the Buckeyes their only loss. "It kind of reminds me of Wisconsin, but their lineup is maybe more athletic," middle linebacker Brian Rolle said. "I looked at Arkansas on tape and I said, 'Man, they can really run for being 6-6 and 6-7 guys.'"...
"Our coaches are very, very good at finding the little kinks on how can we attack these guys," Larimore said. "What do they not like to go against and what do they like to go against? What can they really kill us on?" The Razorbacks seem to be able to strike defenses both ways. But if the Buckeyes can maintain recent trends, the Arkansas offense should put up about 17 points. "When you talk about playing Oregon, it was a huge challenge. When you talk about playing Arkansas, it's an unbelievable challenge," Larimore said. "But if we can stop them, it's a huge reward. The bigger the challenge, the better the reward."..."
Ohio State: The Buckeyes carried the momentum from their 2010 Rose bowl win into another 11 win, championship season. Pryor really matured into a better pocket passer this season and the defense only allowed 17 points in a Big Ten game once (a loss to Wisconsin).
Arkansas: Bobby Petrino's offense features Ryan Mallett, a 3000 yard passer, RB Knile Davis who ran for over 1000 yards, and five receivers with at least 500 yards receiving. The Hogs averaged 37.3 ppg, but averaged 42.5 points over their last six games (6-0).
Box Score: Pryor hit Dane Sanzenbacher for a 17-yard TD with just under a minute to go to give OSU the lead for good in a game where a lead never felt safe. The 4th quarter featured 28 total points, the final nine scored by OSU to give Jim Tressel another BCS bowl win. Pryor finished the game with three touchdown passes to take home Player of the Game honors. Source: What If Sports 12/14/10
SERIES RECORD • 1st Meeting
BOWL TIDBITS • Ohio State has three of the top seven highest TV-rated BCS games and boasted a 13.3 TV rating in its eight prior appearances, a figure that is third-highest among all schools. Five of Ohio State’s eight BCS games have been either the highest- or second-highest rated TV bowl games for that season.
• Both Ohio State and Arkansas have scored 40 or more points five times this season.
• Arkansas is playing in its first BCS game.
• The Southeastern Conference has the best BCS bowl game record (14-5, including 3-1 vs. Big Ten teams) and the Big Ten is 10-11.
• The team with the higher BCS ranking is 7-5 in Sugar Bowl games, but the higher seed has lost two consecutive: No. 3 Cincinnati lost to No. 5 Florida, 51-24, in 2010; and No. 4 Alabama lost to No. 6 Utah, 31-17, in 2009.
THE BOWL RECORD • Ohio State has a 19-22 record in bowl games, dating back to the 1921 Rose Bowl, where the Buckeyes were defeated 28-0 by California. The Buckeyes have appeared in 11 different bowl games during their storied history.
• The Buckeyes are 5-3 in eight BCS game appearances. Ohio State holds a 15-19 record in bowl games played on New Year’s Day or later. Under Jim Tressel, Ohio State is 5-4 in bowl games.
FIRST AND 10 • Ohio State is playing in its sixth consecutive BCS bowl and its ninth overall, the most among FBS schools
• Ohio State is the first team in Big Ten history to win at least 10 games in six consecutive seasons
• Ohio State leads the Big Ten and ranks second nationally in total defense. It is tied for the Big Ten lead with 17 INTs
• Terrelle Pryor needs 18 yards rushing to become Ohio State’s career rushing leader among QBs
• Ohio State is the only team that ranks in the Top 10 of both the current USA Today coaches’ poll and also the APR rankings
• Jim Tressel (240 wins) is the second-winningest active FBS coach behind Joe Paterno (401)
• Tressel is the only coach in NCAA annals to win 100 games at two different schools
• Ohio State is 5-4 in bowl games under Jim Tressel and 4-3 in BCS games
• Junior DeVier Posey has caught at least one pass in 26 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the Big Ten
• Junior Daniel “Boom” Herron has scored at least one touchdown in 11 consecutive games
THE SILVER BULLET DEFENSE • Among FBS teams, Ohio State ranks second in total defense (250.5 ypg), fourth in rushing defense (94.3 ypg), fourth in pass defense (156.25 ypg), third in scoring defense (13.3 ppg) and are tied for third in TO margin (+1.17).
• Ohio State ranks first in the Big Ten in scoring defense, total defense, pass defense, pass efficiency defense and TO margin and have allowed the fewest number of opponent first downs (165).
• Ohio State’s defense has given up just 16 touchdowns in 2010 and has recorded 28 turnovers in 12 games.
• Ohio State leads the Big Ten with 18 interceptions this season.
• OSU has allowed 13.4 points per game since the start of the 2005 season. That is the best scoring defense among FBS teams in this span.
CAUSING TURNOVERS • Ohio State is second in the nation in turnover margin, with a +1.17-margin per game. The Buckeyes have forced 29 opponent turnovers through 12 games, committing just 15. In Buckeye annals, only seven previous squads have forced 40 or more turnovers for a season.
THREE AND OUT • The Ohio State defense is averaging 5.75 three-and-outs per contest this season, second best among FBS teams behind TCU (6.4 per game).
DID YOU KNOW? • With its win at Iowa Nov. 20, Ohio State became the first team in Big Ten history to win at least 10 games in six consecutive seasons.
• Ohio State has made 99 consecutive appearances in the AP Top 25 poll, the longest active streak among FBS teams. Alabama is second with 48.
• Ohio State is the only FBS team to have finished in the top 10 in the final AP poll in each of the last five seasons. That has only happened once previously in OSU football history. The Buckeyes were in the top 10 of the final poll in each season from 1972-76.
HONORARY CAPTAIN • Buckeye great and two time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin
TV: TV: ESPN will televise the game with Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge in the booth and Holly Rowe on the sidelines. The game can also be viewed on ESPN3.com.
Radio: WBNS (97.1 FM The Fan) is the flagship station for the 73-station Ohio State radio network. The Jim Tressel pregame show airs 30 minutes prior to kickoff. Paul Keels will call the play-by-play with former Buckeye Jim Lachey in the booth and Marty Bannister on the sidelines. The game can also be heard on ESPN Radio and Sirius satellite radio 125 and XM 102 with Sean McDonough and Matt Millen in the booth and Quint Kessenich on the sidelines.
ARKANSAS AT A GLANCE • The Razorbacks (10-2, 6-2, SEC) are heading to the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans in the school's first BCS appearance.
• Arkansas is 1-4 in the Sugar Bowl, with all five appearances coming in the pre-BCS era. The Razorbacks last appeared in the Sugar following the 1979 season, losing 24-9 to Alabama.
• UA leads the SEC and ranks third in the NCAA in passing offense, averaging 338.4 yards per game. The Razorbacks are 10th in the NCAA in total offense with an average of 489.3 yards-per-game.
• Arkansas has won six in a row and has scored at least 31 in all six and at least 38 in five of the six.
• QB Ryan Mallet has thrown for 7,216 yards and 60 touchdowns in his two seasons in Fayetteville, and had nine 300-yard games in 2010. The TDs over the last two years rank third among players for BCS schools while the passing yards rank second in that span, trailing only Oklahoma's Landry Jones.
• Soph RB Knile Davis, 6' 220lbs, gained over 1100 yards this season averaging just under 100 yds per game. He turned in one of the top five fastest 40-yard dash time on the team during offseason testing (4.37).
•Tight end D.J. Williams was named the 2010 Mackey Award winner during the Home Depot College Football Awards Red Carpet Show on ESPNU. He is the NCAA's active career leader in receptions and receiving yards by a tight end. His 147 career catches also place him second on Arkansas' all-time list and are the most by a non-wide receiver in school history, and his 1,817 receiving yards place him 10th on the program's all-time list. This season, the senior from Little Rock, Ark., leads the team with 49 receptions, which have netted 589 yards, the fifth-highest total on the team, and a single-season career-high four touchdowns. His 4.1 receptions-per-game average is sixth in the SEC this season.
• Arkansas football team had four members named to the SEC All-Freshman Team, as voted by the conference's coaches: Offensive guard Alvin Bailey, center Travis Swanson, kicker Zach Hocker and defensive tackle Byran Jones were named among the best freshmen in the SEC at their position.
•On Rivals.com's Freshman All-America team, the Razorbacks are represented well. Offensive linemen Alvin Bailey (OG) and Travis Swanson (C) are listed in the website's first team offensive unit. Bailey and Swanson have been pivotal members of an Arkansas offensive line that paved the way for the first season in school history with a 3,000-yard passer (Ryan Mallett) and a 1,000-yard rusher (Knile Davis).
Ohio State Football: Breaking Down the Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl vs. Arkansas December 12, 2010 Source: Bleacher Report - "
Considering past history, it's hard to imagine a BCS bowl season where the Ohio State Buckeyes don't make an appearance. And for the sixth straight season, Ohio State finds itself in the Sugar Bowl playing against one of the big surprises of the season, Ryan Mallett's Arkansas Razorbacks...this matchup will certainly be a huge test for OSU, as they have not faced as prolific and pure a passer as Mallett since facing Philip Rivers and N.C. State in 2003. Going into this matchup, here are 10 keys to watch for if Ohio State can finally shake the SEC jinx...
1. Terrelle Pryor Must Elevate His Game Once Again...
2. Boom Herron Must Help Ignite the Running Game...
3. The Front Seven Must Get to Ryan Mallett and Hit Him...
4. The Safeties Have To Avoid Giving Up the Big Play...
5. Mike Adams Must Be Ready To Protect Pryor from the Blind Side...
6. Get More Great Returns from Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry...
7. Make Ryan Mallett Beat You by Himself...
8. Do Not Get Intimidated by the SEC Jinx...
9. Conservative Play-Calling = Not Smart...
10. Pryor Must Use All of His Targets Effectively..."
Sugar Bowl first glance: Ohio State vs. Arkansas December 11, 2010 Source: Sporting News - "
Ohio State will win if: It sacks the quarterback. The Hogs will look to establish quarterback Ryan Mallett in what figures to be his final college game. Cam Heyward and the Buckeyes defensive line has excelled, especially as of late, and needs to bother Mallett to stay in the game.
Arkansas will win if: It scores four touchdowns. Despite a three-year starter at quarterback, a strong lead running back, and a reliable line, Ohio State’s offensive production against good teams remains a mystery. Expect Arkansas’ defense to score its share of victories in New Orleans..."
Most Buckeyes fans know what 0-9 means, and if they don't, SEC fans will happily remind them. Ohio State is 0-9 against SEC teams in bowl games, including back-to-back losses in the BCS title games in 2007 and 2008 that continue to blotch the Buckeyes’ national reputation. Jim Tressel’s crew will try to overcome its SEC blues in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Arkansas.
Ohio State has been a slow-starting, strong-finishing team, both in games and throughout the season. The Buckeyes’ early stumbles against Wisconsin led to their only loss, but they won their final five regular-season games, all but one contest by 24 points or more.
Aside from the Wisconsin setback, Ohio State’s defense allowed no more than 17 points in a conference game and overcame some key injuries, particularly in the secondary. Containing Mallett is clearly Ohio State’s top priority, and the Buckeyes boast a top 10 pass defense led by cornerback Chimdi Chekwa and safety Jermale Hines.
Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor took a major step forward in the Rose Bowl and looks for another big performance on the big stage. Pryor’s mobility could be key against an Arkansas defense that applies a lot of pressure. Source: ESPN 12/6/10 Ohio State Bowl History vs. SEC; all nine games. Source: The Morning Journal 12/15/10
Arkansas take by SEC blogger Chris Low: Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino joins two of his SEC colleagues (Nick Saban and Urban Meyer) in becoming only the third coach to take two different schools to BCS bowl games. Petrino led Louisville to a victory in the 2007 Orange Bowl.
The Hogs (10-2) charge into their Allstate Sugar Bowl matchup with Ohio State playing their best football of the season. They've won their past six games and are averaging 42.5 points in those six contests.
Arkansas’ resume is equally impressive. The Hogs own four wins over teams ranked in the top 25 of the final BCS standings. They're the only team in the country with a quarterback (Ryan Mallett) who has passed for 3,000 yards, a running back (Knile Davis) who has rushed for 1,000 yards and five receivers (Greg Childs, Joe Adams, Cobi Hamilton, Jarius Wright and D.J. Williams) who have at least 500 receiving yards.
While known for its explosive offense, Arkansas’ defensive improvement has been the real story to its success. The Hogs were 89th in the country in total defense a year ago, but enter the bowl game ranked 34th nationally this season.
This is a team playing with a lot of confidence right now and a team that showed a lot of resilience after losing a close game at home to Alabama in September and then getting toasted in the fourth quarter by Auburn a month later. Source: ESPN 12/6/10
Cameron Heyward previews Sugar Bowl matchup with Arkansas Source: OSU Official Site 12/17/10
Sugar Bowl Preview: #6 Ohio State vs #8 Arkansas January 4, 2011 Source: Buckeye Planet - "...Opponent Mallett's 3,592 yards are the product of nine 300-yard games (including two 400-yard performances) and his body of work lacks any real blemishes. In the loss to Alabama, he was picked off three times, but finished with 357 yards against one of the better defensive minds in the game in Nick Saban. In Arkansas' other loss, to Auburn, Mallett was knocked out of the game with a first half concussion...Tackle DeMarcus Love (#65) is the star of a cohesive offensive line that started all 12 games together this season and allowed just a tad more sacks per game than the Ohio State line gave up (2.0 to 1.8)...Sophomore (CB) Winston has decent size (6-0/185) and is a former prep USA Today All-American, but he is a first year starter and he was criticized in the past for being "soft" on the field, so you have to like Posey and Sanzenbacher's chances with him...Buckeye Breakdown...As for that gameplan, Ohio State's MO in these games is not a secret. Most every team they face is held to season lows in points as Tresselball works its magic. Expect more of the same tonight as OSU will look to establish the running game early in an attempt to keep Mallett on the sidelines where he's of no danger of crushing your will to live with 80-yard bombs. I say that, but we also thought that was the plan heading into the Rose Bowl last season and Pryor came out slinging it...As for that gameplan, Ohio State's MO in these games is not a secret. Most every team they face is held to season lows in points as Tresselball works its magic. Expect more of the same tonight as OSU will look to establish the running game early in an attempt to keep Mallett on the sidelines where he's of no danger of crushing your will to live with 80-yard bombs. I say that, but we also thought that was the plan heading into the Rose Bowl last season and Pryor came out slinging it...The linebackers will certainly have their hands full, what with accounting for Davis running the ball and Williams slipping out underneath...Monkey tossed (but it won't be easy): Ohio State 27, Arkansas 24..."
Ohio State vs. Arkansas Preview January 4, 2011 Source: The Ozone - "...When Arkansas Has The Ball: ...Regardless of how much, or how well, the Buckeyes attack this offense, they won't be able to stop it. They can slow it down, but the Razorbacks are going to win their hefty share of battles. Ohio State just needs to make sure that each battle is a struggle...Stopping the Arkansas passing game isn't just as simple as harassing Mallett. The secondary will also need to cover three very talented receivers, and perhaps the best tight end in the nation in D.J. Williams...It's not all about the passing game for Arkansas, however. Over the last six games, running back Knile Davis is averaging 148.2 yards rushing per game...It's hard to have a great offense without a great special teams, and Arkansas gets a lot out of their kicking game...When Ohio State Has The Ball: The Buckeyes actually come into this game with the higher-scoring offense than Arkansas (39.4 points per game to 37.3), and can move the ball in a myriad of ways. However, the better the defense, the less likely a stellar passing game is going to happen. The Razorbacks come into this game with a month to prepare for the Ohio State offense, which could make them even better than they actually are...Arkansas leads the SEC in sacks, averaging over three per game...Quarterbacks who can escape and run the ball have given the Razorbacks trouble this season...Given the opponents' success with the running quarterback and the read option plays, expect to see some of that from the Buckeyes...How It'll End Up...It's that Razorback running game that will run Ohio State's SEC bowl record to 0-10. Arkansas 31 – Ohio State 26..."
The crew from Buckeyesports.com break down the Sugar Bowl matchup between Ohio State and Arkansas
Gameday+ January 4, 2011 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "BuckeyeXtra.com delivers all you need to know about the Buckeyes upcoming game. Click here for everything from the top story, play of the week: Cover Story: Journey's End: OSU's four senior captains took different routes, but they now finish back where they started, Play of the Week: Gun Left, Wheel & Go, Game Predictions with guest prognosticator Boobie Williams former Arkansas OL & current Bengals G, Recruiting Watch: Future Buckeyes in all-star games
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Ohio State (11-1) vs. Arkansas (10-2) January 3, 2011 Source: ESPN - "...WHO TO WATCH: Ohio State's five suspended players who will participate in the bowl, particularly starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, starting running back Dan Herron, starting left tackle Mike Adams and starting receiver DeVier Posey. They created a major distraction for the program, and all have vowed to make things right not only in the bowl game but by returning for their senior seasons. It will be interesting to see the mental states of players like Pryor, no stranger to scrutiny and a guy who stepped up in the 2010 Rose Bowl. Ohio State needs a strong showing from its offense, and Pryor and his teammates will be in the spotlight.
WHAT TO WATCH: Ohio State's secondary vs. Arkansas' pass-catchers. Despite several season-ending injuries, the Buckeyes' defensive backs have more than held their own, helping Ohio State rank sixth nationally in pass defense (156.3 ypg allowed). But the Buckeyes' secondary faces its toughest challenge of the season with Arkansas, which boasts five players with 500 receiving yards or more and four with 600 receiving yards or more. First-team All-Big Ten selections Chimdi Chekwa and Jermale Hines need strong performances against Ryan Mallett and his many targets.
WHY TO WATCH: The Buckeyes' suspension and the controversy surrounding the penalties certainly adds interest to this game. Will Ohio State have a united locker room as it tries to beat an SEC foe in a bowl game for the first time in 10 tries?...
PREDICTION: Ohio State 24, Arkansas 21...Expect a big game from Cameron Heyward as Ohio State ends its bowl slide against the SEC...."
2011 Sugar Bowl Arkansas Razorbacks Game Preview December 29, 2010 Source: Buckeye Planet - "...2010 Arkansas Razorbacks Offensive Preview
Bobby Petrino brings his Razorbacks into the Sugar Bowl with one of the nation's most impressive offenses, led by former Oklahoma QB and Jacksonville assistant Garrick McGee. Rarely does one see the kind of sweeping overhaul between coaching staffs result in the kind of immediate success Petrino has enjoyed...The past 2 seasons behind Ryan Mallett, the Hogs have ranked in the top 10 nationally in passing, and as their running game has improved so too has their record. In 2009 their running game ranked 81st and they went 8-5. This year the running game is ranked 65th and they went 10-2, demonstrating how important offensive balance can be. Their commitment to the running game in the second half of the season sparked a run of victories than landed them in the Sugar Bowl, and it is expected that the battle in the trenches will also decide the bowl game. The Razorbacks have piled up the yards all season, to the tune of 489.3 yards a game, ranking 10th nationally. They rank 4th in the country in passing yardage (349.2 YPG) and a respectable 65th in rushing (150.8 YPG). Their scoring average of 37.3 PPG is 16th in the country...All in all, this will be a very challenging bowl matchup for the Buckeye defense, and will be a game every bit as difficult as last season's Rose Bowl...2010 Arkansas Razorbacks Defensive Preview
Defensive Coordinator Willy Robinson is in his third year with the Razorbacks. A 32 year coaching veteran, Robinson has coached both at the college level and in the NFL including a season as the 49ers Defensive Coordinator (2004)...It seems the Razorbacks are most comfortable in a 4-2-5 this season, but may run a 4-3 against Ohio State. Nonetheless, according to Rivals, the 4-2-5 is the primary defense and it will be examined as such in the review that follows..."
Ohio St.-Arkansas Preview November 10, 2010 Source: ESPN - "...Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino sees similarities between Pryor and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, who led Auburn to a 65-43 victory over the Razorbacks (10-2) in October. "Their size and strength and ability to run," Petrino said. "They're both tremendous football players, great leaders and had a lot of success in knowing how to win games." Arkansas and Ohio State have never faced each other, but Mallett still views the Buckeyes as a bitter rival. "It's going to be a fun game," he said. "It's two great teams. Obviously, I had the traditional rivalry hatred (at Michigan). I've still got a little Michigan in me from that. I've never really been a big fan (of Ohio State)." As for exactly how he feels about the Buckeyes, Mallett said, "I don't know if it's something you can say on air or in the paper." Arkansas is 1-4 in the Sugar Bowl, with all five appearances coming in the pre-BCS era. The Razorbacks last appeared in the Sugar following the 1979 season, losing 24-9 to Alabama. While this will be the Razorbacks' debut in a BCS bowl, it won't be a BCS debut for their coach. Petrino guided Louisville to victory in the Orange Bowl following the 2006 season..."
ESPN's Schlabach and Adelson preview the Sugar Bowl matchup between Ohio State & Arkansas
Ohio St.-Arkansas Preview December 23, 2010 Source: CBS Sports - "...Tressel needs no introduction to Mallett, who played for the archrival Wolverines in 2007 before joining the Razorbacks. "We're very familiar with Ryan Mallett because of course we played against him when he was at the University of Michigan," Tressel said. "In fact, I was hoping we were done with him when he transferred, and here we are getting him when he's at the height of his career. "He is a tremendous football player, lightning-quick release. Smart as a whip, you can tell just through his numbers the way he's grown into being one of the great, great quarterbacks in all of the country." Arkansas and Ohio State have never faced each other, but Mallett still views the Buckeyes as a bitter rival. "It's going to be a fun game," he said. "It's two great teams. Obviously, I had the traditional rivalry hatred (at Michigan). I've still got a little Michigan in me from that. I've never really been a big fan (of Ohio State)."..."
Early Bowl Game Betting Advice - Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Ohio State Buckeyes: Ohio State Offense vs. Arkansas Defense: Terrelle Pryor was supposed to be a Heisman Trophy candidate at the start of the season. Our best early bowl game betting advice is to look at Pryor's numbers and remember that the only reason he probably isn't in New York as a finalist is because of that one loss to the Wisconsin Badgers earlier this year at Camp Randall. Pryor threw for 2,551 yards and 25 TDs and rushed for 639 yards and four more scores. He was also aided on the ground by Daniel Herron, who had his best year for sure with 1,068 yards and 15 TDs. Take our early bowl game betting advice and remember that this isn't just a one dimensional team. Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey can make big time plays, as they combined for 16 TDs. The Arkansas defense did slip down the stretch a bit, allowing at least 20 points in its final four games, but if you take out that 65 points that was dropped on it by the Auburn Tigers, you have a unit that would have ranked in the Top 25 nationally in virtually every single major category.
Arkansas Offense vs. Ohio State Defense: The Hogs are really going to miss Greg Childs in this game, as he was really their best threat to stretch the field. However, Bobby Petrino has built up a real force on this side of the ball with Ryan Mallett calling the shots, and we have to remember, for our early bowl game betting advice, that this offense ranked No. 9 nationally at 491.1 yards per game and No. 3 in passing at nearly 340 yards per game. Ohio State's 'D' was just downright nasty all season long, though. The unit ranked No. 3 in total defense, No. 4 in passing, and No. 4 in rushing, and the only reason that a 13.3 points per game average wasn't better was because of six defensive or special teams touchdowns allowed on the year. If you take those out, the Buckeyes only allowed an average of 9.8 points per game. Our early bowl game betting advice is that this is one of the best units in the country on this side of the ball..."
Arkansas' Travis Swanson, Wade Grayson and Alvin Bailey vs. Ohio State DT Cameron Heyward: The Razorbacks feature one of the best running games in the SEC, but it will be a moot point if the interior of the offensive line can't hold its water against Heyward. At 6’5”, 288 pounds, Heyward looks svelte by traditional defensive tackle standards, but his quickness and ability to outmaneuver larger offensive linemen is what makes him such a disruptive force in the middle of the Buckeye defense...
Bobby Petrino vs. Jim Tressel: Let’s just call this one more psychological than having anything to do with any actual Xs and Os. That said, it’s still hard to tell who exactly has the edge...
Ohio State CB Chimdi Chekwa vs. Arkansas Receiving Corps: Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, they have only one Chekwa, who is undoubtedly one of the better cornerbacks in not only the Big Ten, but the nation...
Ryan Mallett vs. Ryan Mallett: This is not a misprint. As the old adage goes, a team will only go as far as its best players will take it, and Mallett is the undisputed leader of this Arkansas team..."
Mallett Remembers Michigan-Ohio State Rivalry December 7, 2010 Source: Arkansas News - "Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett used to be a Michigan man. So there’s no doubt when Ohio State, the Razorbacks’ opponent in the 2011 Sugar Bowl became official, it struck a chord with the junior. "Obviously I had the tradition, rivalry, hatred," said Mallett, who transferred from Michigan to Arkansas after the 2007 season. "You know I've still got a little Michigan in me from that. I've never been a big fan. So it’s going to be fun."...The opponent just happens to be one Mallett knows a little about, playing against the Buckeyes in the 2007 edition of the storied Big Ten rivalry. Granted, he didn't play much in Michigan’s 14-3 loss, completing 1 of 3 passes for eight yards. But the strong-armed quarterback got enough of a firsthand look at the rivalry, while making quite an impression on Ohio State coach Jim Tressel..."
Sugar Bowl: What bettors need to know: "...OHIO STATE'S EDGE: The Silver Bullet Defense is one of the nation's best, ranking second in total defense (250.6 yards) and third in scoring defense (13.3 points). The Buckeyes have limited six opponents to 10 or fewer points, including rival Michigan, which managed only seven. All-American Chimdi Chekwa leads the team with three interceptions and has 42 tackles and two forced fumbles. Brian Rolle leads with 70 tackles, 10 of them for loss, and Nathan Williams has four sacks. ARKANSAS' EDGE: The Hogs can put points on the board; they've scored no fewer than 31 points in their last seven games — all but one against stiff SEC competition. They rank third in the nation in passing offense thanks to quarterback Ryan Mallett and six receivers with at least 27 catches. The top pass catchers include: D.J. Williams (49 receptions, four TDs) and Joe Adams (41 catches, five TDs)...
BIG TEN VS. SEC: It’s been a rough bowl season for the Big Ten. Entering Tuesday’s OSU-Arkansas matchup, the conference is 1-5 straight up and against the spread in its six bowl games this season. The SEC is 3-0 SU and ATS versus Big Ten competition in this year’s bowls improving its mark against the Big Ten to 42-29 outright all-time in bowl games. Ohio State has never beaten an SEC opponent in a bowl game, failing in each of its nine opportunities.
BETTING TRENDS: Arkansas is 16-5 ATS in its last 21 games against winning teams and 6-0 ATS in its last six games overall. Ohio State is 8-0 ATS in its last eight non-conference games but 0-5 ATS in its last five games against an SEC opponent. The under is 7-0 in the Razorbacks’ last seven bowl games while the over is 4-1 the last five times Arkansas has been an underdog..." ..." Source: Covers.com