Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Big 10 bellcow goes for 0-10 aganst the SEC in the Sugar Bowl

This is a tragedy, this tattoo business for The Ohio State.

Here we have the biggest underdog since the Karate Kid, a dogged little school (enrollment 65,000) that doggedly pursues gridiron excellence (TOSU spends $31.7 million a year on football, the most of any bowl team) and yet gets picked on repeatedly by the bullies of the SEC. You know, those Deep South freak show where all the players are fast (they aren't weighed down by school books) and the coaches are sadistic megalomaniacs (Disclaimer: in the case of sinsei Nick Saban, those traits are strongly suspected by have never been clinically diagnosed.)

The Buckeyes, which treat the post-season as an educational opportunity -- in this case, independent studies on the benefits of the free-market system -- are 0-9 against the SEC in bowl games. In a character-building move, the school and the NCAA have guaranteed TOSU will be at full strength, even if the boys in Indianapolis, playing the role of Mr. Miyagi, had to intercede to make this a fair fight.

So far the contrived Big 10-SEC bowl matchups have been a little one-sided. Now TOSU, its top players wearing fresh battle paint, try to salvage some respect for the men of the Midwest, while keeping its SEC losing streak in single digits.

The battle plan for tonight's game is simple: Sweep the leg. If Arkansas can slow down the run and run the ball just a little, the Big 10's best program will slink back to Columbus, 0-10 against the SEC, and facing the slew of penalties waiting at the start of the 2011 season.

Arkansas is so-so defensively. But unlike just about any other Bobby Petrino team, the Hog defenders has improved over the season. Arkansas' offense has done the same, ripping apart LSU with the run and pass in its last game. OSU has a more disciplined defense than LSU, but not its size or speed.

Which brings us to the final factor: the quarterbacks. It's not a stretch to call Ryan Mallette and Terrelle Pryor mirror twins. Both are oversized and physically gifted. Both are on the temperamental side. The difference is Pryor, the MVP of last year's Rose Bowl Game, has replaced Cam Newton as college football biggest lightning rod. Unlike Newton, some of Pryor's biggest critics are among his own fans.

So how does he respond? Well, is the guess here. But not well enough.

Bucks on, Bucks offed.

Arkansas, 31-24


Bama Brother said...

Well, I am writing this ahead of MG's postgame analysis and I must issue the disclaimer that I did not see all of the game. That said, I'm going to go ahead and ask: Does Ryan Mallett have a bit of the Brett Favre gene in him? In other words, for every great TD pass he throws - and the one he tossed in the third quarter was a thing of beauty - does he also have tendencies to throw BAD interceptions?
Thoughtful, more informed people are invited to respond.