The 2009 Fiesta Bowl was once considered a defacto national championship game of sorts, but after the upset of Alabama by undefeated Utah in the Sugar Bowl, Texas might steal some of Utah’s votes with a win and Ohio State may create quite an end of the year stir with a victory in Tempe, AZ.
Texas (11-1) appeared to be the one team that got snubbed during the bowl selection process, but with the Cotton and Sugar bowl results, many will wonder if it was Utah that got snubbed from the national title game.
The Longhorns’ lone defeat of the season came to a Texas Tech Red Raiders squad that jumped to an early lead against Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl, but quickly squandered that and any thought of the Big 12 being the best conference in the country this season. One of the Longhorns’ “quality” wins came against an Oklahoma State team that was shredded by Oregon and its quarterback in the Holiday Bowl.
Utah on the other hand has nothing but wins against TCU, BYU, Oregon State, Michigan and Alabama as these raise some serious questions as to who the real national champion will be this season.
The Mountain West can easily be considered one of the top conferences in the nation preceded by the SEC and Big XII and preceded by the Pac 10 and Big Ten.
Nonetheless, when Texas and Ohio State square off in Tempe tonight in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, both teams will be playing to win the game.
“It’s time for us to put behind all the BCS stuff and move forward and look forward to a great game,” Texas head coach Mack Brown said. “The BCS doesn’t satisfy everybody. We’ve been on the positive side of it a few times. We’ve been on the negative side a few times.”
The third-ranked Longhorns are a predominant favorite in the match-up of two schools with plenty of boosters and blue chip recruits. Heisman finalist and quarterback Colt McCoy leads an explosive offense setting school records of 3,445 passing yards and 32 TDs this season. McCoy also set an NCAA record for completion percentage for a season with an astounding 77.6 mark. If that wasn’t enough, McCoy also led the Longhorns in rushing with 576 yards and is second on the team with 10 rushing touchdowns.
Needless to say, the Longhorns go as McCoy does. “He’s been the heart of our offense,” Brown said. “He means to this team what Vince Young meant to the one in 2005. I can’t imagine a player that means more to his team than Colt does to ours.”
The Buckeyes are used to the big stage and facing the best of the best come bowl time. They will be playing in their seventh BCS bowl in the 11-year history of the system, which ties USC and Oklahoma for the most appearances. The Buckeyes were outplayed in their last two BCS bowls and they are hoping not to make it three in a row.
“To be honest, we don’t try to think about it too much,” star linebacker James Laurinaitis stated. “We’re going to get asked that question over and over and over until you win one of those games.”
True freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor will try to buck the trend against the Longhorns. Pryor has been very efficient in his first year removed from high school completing 62.2 percent of his passes, which accounted for 1,158 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Pryor’s only loss came at the Horseshoe versus Penn State who got beat up in the Rose Bowl versus USC. Most of Pryor’s success tonight may stem from his legs. Pryor has 553 rushing yards along with five scores this season.
The defenses in this game are both very good as both are in the top 20 in scoring defenses nationally. Ohio State is at 13.1 points per game and Texas is at 18.6. The edge in total defense does lie with the Buckeyes as they were eighth nationally allowing 279.3 yards per game and the Longhorns were 50th at 339.9. That large discrepancy in total yards allowed may be due to the fact that Texas has such a quick-strike offense that their defense saw plenty of the field.
This is the third meeting between the two schools all-time which all came in the last four seasons. They split the first two meetings. Texas is 1-0 all-time in the Fiesta bowl whereas Texas is 4-1.
Patrick Brougham is a contributor for JOCKlife.com, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org