Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Texas Longhorns
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium
Most books in Vegas and offshore opened with the Longhorns favored by double digits with some shops giving the Buckeyes 10.5 or 11 points. Since then the line has moved to -8 and can be found at -7.5. It doesn’t appear oddsmakers are prepared to let the line get south of the touchdown mark.
The total can be found anywhere between 51.5 and 54. Fifty-three seems like the most common number shops are offering.
The Longhorns are still seething that they are playing in the Fiesta Bowl while Oklahoma – a team Texas beat by 10 points on a neutral field – plays in the national championship game against Florida.
“We were disappointed. We’re human,” quarterback Colt McCoy told reporters. “But that’s not how it turned out, and great teams overcome that.”
The last time the Horns were upset by their bowl placement, they lost to Washington State 38-20 in the 2003 Holiday Bowl despite being a 9.5-point favorite.
A dominant performance against Ohio State could propel Texas to the No. 1 ranking for the 2009 season.
Of course the eight senior starters are just hoping to leave on a winning note.
“This is our last game wearing the Longhorn helmet,” senior defensive end Brian Orakpo said. “Let’s not hold back nothing.”
Ohio State doesn’t have to do as much searching to find reason to fight. The Big Ten has taken a major blow in bowl competition over the past few years.
The conference has lost five of its six postseason matches this season and is 15-27 straight up in bowl appearances since 2003.
Of course the Buckeyes are responsible for the two most embarrassing setbacks. Ohio State was outclassed by SEC teams in the past two BCS title games.
Both football programs mirror the offensive approach of their conferences. Ohio State, like most Big Ten schools, loves to run the ball in all situations.
The Buckeye unit is led by duel-threat quarterback Terrelle Pryor and power back Chris “Beanie” Wells. The junior ran for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns despite sitting out three games this season.
“He (Wells) is by far the best back we’ll see this year,” Horns coach Mack Brown said earlier this week. “He is a game-changer.”
Texas tops the Big 12 in run defense allowing just 2.8 yards per carry, but that was against many pass-happy opponents.
The Longhorns love to spread the field with multiple receiver sets and most snaps come out of the shotgun formation. This style of offensive attack has proved difficult for OSU to stop over the past few seasons.
Ohio State’s Pryor – a true freshman – grabbed the starting job under center after three unimpressive showings from senior Todd Boeckman. He was the most sought after high school recruit after a dominating high school career.
Pryor’s confidence can sometimes be perceived as cockiness. He took some heat earlier this season for informing press members the college game was as easy as high school.
Since then coach Jim Tressel has limited his QB’s media obligations. The coach recently took some criticism for omitting Pryor from the 30 OSU players made available to the pres