Daily Blog • Tuesday, January 4th


8:30 PM ESPN
Click on the bowl logo for MORE info!!!!


Naturally the story here is the five Buckeye players who will play in this game but will be suspended for the first five games of next year and whether or not that will be a distraction. This is the 1st ever meeting between the schools and the Sugar Bowl got their wish to host 2 high profile BCS programs. Arkansas is making its 1st trip to a BCS Bowl but HC Petrino took his L’ville team to the Orange Bowl in ‘06 where they defeated Wake Forest, 24-13. OSU is making a national record 9th BCS appearance and 6th consecutive. The Bucks are 5-4 in bowls under Tressel but will be reminded often by the media of their 0-9 record vs SEC teams in the postseason. OSU is 1-3 in New Orleans with their last trip here being the National Champ loss to LSU in ‘07 (38-24). This is Ark’s 38th bowl and 6th trip to the Sugar Bowl with their last appearance on Jan 1, 1980, a 24-9 loss to Alabama. Arkansas fans sold out their allotment the day after the bowl was announced and they should have a slight crowd edge in SEC country.

Everyone knew Ark had a great offense (#5) led by future NFL QB Mallett and a strong receiving corps, but this year the surprises were a greatly improved run gm led by 1st Tm SEC RB Davis and an improved D. Mallett led the SEC in pass ypg (#5 NCAA) for the 2nd str yr and was #3 in the NCAA in pass eff. Mallett transferred from Michigan and actually faced the Bucks in ‘07 coming off the bench for an inj’d Henne in a 14-3 loss (1-3 for 8 yds) with current OSU LG Boren blk’g in front of him. Mackey Award Winning TE DJ Williams led the tm in rec and led the SEC in rec by a TE. On defenseArk improved their sks to 37 (29 LY) which is #2 in the SEC. Ark’s biggest defensive improvement was in pass D where they finished #23 in my rankings (#80 LY) allowing just 182 ypg (55%) with an 11-11 ratio. UA’s ST feature solid P Breeding and K Hocker plus excellent PR Adams.

After LY’s Rose Bowl MVP performance the expectations for QB Pryor’s season were enormous and he was named the Big 10’s Pressn OPY for the 2nd straight year. While he greatly improved as a passer and provided OSU with its biggest play of the ssn - a 14 yd scramble on 4&10 at the 50 with 4:02 left on the gm winning TD drive vs Iowa - he wasn’t on either of the coach’s or media’s All-Conf ballot. He is still the 1st QB in the post WWII era to lead his team to a Big 10 champ in his Fr, So and Jr ssns but obviously there are those leadership concerns now. OSU’s D continued its strong run as they finished #1 in my rankings. OSU finished #9 in my pass eff D (156, 54%, 7-18) with FS Hines being 1 of the league’s hardest hitters. UW KR Gilreath ret’d the opening KO 97 yd for a TD and OSU also all’d a PR and KR TD in the same gm vs Miami (FL) for the 1st time in school history. After a rough start OSU cleaned up its act down the stretch to finish #56 in my ST rankings.

The intangibles which may have favored the Buckeyes earlier (with all the 0-9 vs SEC talk) might be even now with the off-the-field issues. This is the 8th BCS Bowl for the Buckeyes in 9 years while the Razorbacks come in as one of the hottest teams with 6 straight wins. The Buckeyes have a great set of CB’s and this will allow them to confuse Mallett with blitzes. When the Buckeyes have the ball, while you don’t perceive them as explosive they have scored 473 pts TY (2 off school record) and Terrelle Pryor continues to make this offense one of the country’s best. I will call for the Buckeyes to win their 2nd str BCS game.

PHIL’S FORECAST: Ohio St 34 Arkansas 27