The Fiesta Bowl: Can Ohio State Defeat Texas?

Chip MinnichCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2009


Location: University Of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, AZ) 8pm EST on Fox

Head Coach: Mack Brown

Texas Players Who Were Recruited By Ohio State
N/A. Similar to Ohio State, Texas concentrates on keeping players from the state of Texas for its roster. Ohio State has OL J.B. Shugarts on its roster from Texas, but Texas did not actively recruit Shugarts.

Texas Rushing Offense vs Ohio State Defense
Texas' leading rusher is QB Colt McCoy with 576 yards, but Texas will rotate backs Fozzy Whittaker and Vondrell McGee in throughout the game. Texas' strength offensively is predominantly through the air, but Ohio State's linebackers will need to shut down McCoy on any designed quarterback runs or if McCoy takes off scrambling. I would look for Ohio State to spy McCoy with LB/S hybrid Tyler Moeller and/or Jermale Hines.
Edge: Even

Texas Passing Offense vs Ohio State Defense
Colt McCoy was the Heisman Trophy runner-up, throwing for nearly 3500 yards with a completion percentage of 77%. Unlike two seasons ago when Ohio State defeated Texas in the second game of the 2006 season, McCoy has become much stronger physically and poised mentally for a physical Ohio State defense. Texas' top wideouts, Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley, both had over 70 receptions this season and average nearly 12 yds/catch.
While Malcolm Jenkins may be able to slow down one receiver, it will be imperative for Ohio State's other defensive backs (Chimdi Chekwa, Donald Washington) who line up on the Texas receivers to play well, or it could be a long night for Ohio State. I look for Ohio State to blitz McCoy with James Laurinaitis, as well as the perimeter with DE Thaddeus Gibson, to try and disrupt McCoy's timing.
Edge: Texas

Ohio State Rushing Offense vs Texas Defense
As has been the case all season, Chris Wells is the critical offensive weapon for Ohio State. Texas has the second-ranked defense against the run, allowing teams only 2.8 ypc and around 74 yards/game. While Ohio State has QB Terrelle Pryor as a threat on the perimeter plays with option runs, Texas has tremendous speed and will undoubtedly put eight or nine men in the box to shut down Ohio State's running game, daring Pryor to throw. If Texas can play Ohio State the way USC and Penn State did this season, again, it could be a long night for Ohio State.
Edge: Texas

Ohio State Passing Offense vs Texas Defense
Texas' pass defense is the weakest part of its defense, with true freshmen starting at the safety spots. DE Brian Orakpo is a future NFL first round draft choice and could give OT Alex Boone fits in a fashion similar to the last two BCS Championship Games. Ohio State's passing game will need to be more creative and quick-hitting than it showed this season with Terrelle Pryor at the helm. I would look for Pryor to take off on designed bootlegs as well as quick hits to backs out of the backfield or TE Rory Nicol. Even for minimal gains, this will give Ohio State better opportunities to get its running game going, and keep the Texas offense off the field.
Edge: Texas


Special Teams
While Jim Tressel emphasizes special teams at Ohio State, Texas boasts a solid return game with Jordan Shipley. Shipley had a 96 yard kickoff return in its game against Oklahoma, and I would not be surprised to see if Ohio State plays it safe with kicking away from Shipley or directionally to Shipley, to help its coverage units.
Ohio State's field goal kicking has been erratic this season, with both Ryan Pretorius and Aaron Pettrey being given opportunities to kick field goals for the Buckeyes. Ohio State commonly comes up with field goals, but will need to score touchdowns in order to stay with the Longhorns in The Fiesta Bowl.
Edge: Even

For a significant portion of the season, Texas was the number one ranked team in the country, until losing to Texas Tech on the last play of the game on November 1st. Without revisiting all of the politicking done by the various fans and coaches, Texas believes quite strongly that they were robbed of a national championship berth by Oklahoma.
Ohio State has become the butt of national jokes and target of ridicule for its poor performance in the last two BCS Championship Games. With Iowa being the only team this bowl season to secure a victory, it has now fallen upon Ohio State to try and restore some sense of respect to the beleaguered Big Ten Conference.
The big question for Texas is how will they show up for The Fiesta Bowl? If they believe they can they win a share of the national championship from The AP voters, Texas will look to come out and crush Ohio State. If Texas is still psychologically playing a "woe is me" game, Ohio State can possibly be in this game.
Edge: Texas

Everything hinges on Ohio State being able to slow down Texas' passing game, while Ohio State needs to be able to throw effectively when they have the ball. Ohio State fans are quick to point out that Texas did well against other Big XII teams that were not as strong defensively, but I believe many Ohio State either ignore or completely disregard how Ohio State has struggled offensively throughout this entire season.
While I want a good game for Ohio State, I believe this Fiesta Bowl has all the makings of the first Rocky Balboa/Clubber Lang battle in Rocky III. Ohio State will come out thinking that they belong and can play with Texas, but it will truly test the mental toughness of Ohio State if they go down one or two scores to Texas, the inevitable thoughts of "here we go again" will resurface and it will be tough to come back on Texas by throwing the ball.
Texas 31, Ohio State 17