Ohio State Wins Sugar Bowl
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Ohio State 31, Arkansas 26. In a thrilling game, the Buckeyes held off the Razorbacks to save what was almost a disaster of epic proportion. After a late blocked punt, Arkansas was in prime position to score for the win, when Ryan Mallett's season - and probably college career - ended with a crushing INT. Solomon Thomas intercepted the junior's pass on second down from the 18-yard line with a minute to play, and Ohio State broke its string of defeats to SEC teams in bowl games.
You can bet your Buckeyes that Ohio State fans were tired of hearing about this SEC thing. Yeah, the guys wearing scarlet and grey certainly have had their troubles against the teams from down South. But on this night, you could sense - at least for most of the game - that it was going to be different. Ohio State seemed to be playing with urgency, and I was impressed with some of their playmakers.
They were led, of course, by quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who went 14 of 25 for 221 yards an no INTs. What will not show up in that stat-line is that he scrambled and passed for numerous key first downs on third down. OSU was 50% on third down conversions in the game (8 for 16).
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, Arkansas was in prime position for the win after a blocked punt with just over a minute to play set them up in business at the OSU 18-yard line. Buckeye fans around the globe had to be thinking this was the latest version of heartbreak, and another loss to an SEC team.
Not this time.
Thomas stepped in front of the Ryan Mallett pass (24 of 47, 277 yards, no scores and one INT), and the Ohio State bench and section of fans exploded in celebration.
For Mallett, a decision looms on his NFL future. He is projected as one of the top quarterbacks in the draft. For Pryor, he and four teammates will sit out the first four games of 2010. A Heisman trophy opportunity is gone before the season starts. Both of these players have had solid, while interesting, college careers. In this highly anticipated showdown between the two, Pryor went away the victor.
With the win, Ohio State also saved some face for the Big Ten. The league was 2-6 coming into the game, and will now exit bowl season with a 3-6 record.
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