Fiesta Bowl Preview
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Texas wants to make a claim that it is the number 1 team in America. Still feeling slighted after the way that the Big 12 determined its division champion in the 3-way tie, the 'Horns look to take out their frustrations on Ohio State. But with all of the hoopla abound, UT better remember to play the actual Fiesta Bowl itself, and not get hung up on what could happen IF they win.
With all of the focus on Texas and their claim to a share of the BCS Title, let's not forget that Ohio State has played in the last two Title games themselves and are not going to just surrender this game to the Longhorns. Though they lost both of those most recent two games, the Buckeyes boast a 4-2 record in BCS games overall and are looking to show the world that they are a perennial national top program. OSU could use this game as a springboard into a potential 2009 preseason number 1 ranking with a big win.
This duel in the desert will showcase two of the games most intriguing quarterbacks in Colt McCoy of Texas, a Heisman finalist, and Terrelle Pryor of Ohio State, the nation's top recruit just 12 months ago. One is a seasoned veteran who many feel is truly the best player in college football. The other is a player that no-doubtedly has all of the skills necessary to eventually lead his team to the top of the college football mountain and himself into the NFL. McCoy will leave Texas as one of the greatest players in the school's storied history. In 2008, he set school single season records in yards (3,445) and passing touchdowns (32). Pryor had 12 TDs on the year to just 4 interceptions for 1,245 yards - not bad at all in a rookie campaign.
These two teams have played just twice in their long histories, but this will be third time they have played in the last four years. The two schools swapped road victories over one another in 2005 and 2006 when the Vince Young led 'Horns defeated number 4 Ohio State in 2005 25-22 in Columbus and the Buckeyes answered with a 24-7 win over number 2 Colt McCoy and Texas in Austin 364 days later.
Here are their national rankings entering Monday Night's contest:
Total Offense: Texas 9th, Ohio State 79th
Total Defense: Ohio State 7th, Texas 49th
Scoring Offense: Texas 4th, Ohio State 42nd
Scoring Defense: Ohio State 6th, Texas 18th
Turnover Margin: Ohio State 6th, Texas 43rd
Passing efficiency: Texas (McCoy) 3rd, Ohio State (Pryor) n/a
Rushing: Ohio State (Wells) 6th, Texas (McCoy leads team in rushing) n/a
These ranking show that the two teams statistically are fairly even with Ohio State having the edge in four of these seven categories. But Texas probably has played a tougher slate of games, so it is tough to say if these rankings would hold up if the teams switched leagues.
Prediction: This game is setting up to be a dandy. Texas and Ohio State both have "points to prove" as Ohio State wants to prove these last two BCS games were not the real them, and Texas wants to show everyone that they are perhaps the best team in America in 2008. Ohio State is again this season looking at over a 50-day break between games, but I have to wonder if that really has any kind of effect onthe players in the game. I mean, Texas' break will be over 40 days - what's the difference? The last two post-seasons this issue has come up as the Buckeyes looked slow against LSU and Florida. I think it is a non-issue, though.
The X-factor to me will be UT quarterback Colt McCoy. I have watched him develop over the last few seasons into a very consistent leader and feel he will not allow his career to end with a loss. He had one of the greatest seasons in Longhorn history and feel that he will make the necessary plays in the second half to win this game. On the opposing sidelines for Ohio State are two more of the games most dynamic players in Chris Wells (1,048 yards and 8 TDs in just the last 9 games after missing three of first four games) and Terrelle Pryor. I believe they too will make plays, but in the end it will be McCoy that makes more and makes them at the right time.
Texas 38, Ohio State 30
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