Ohio State-Oregon: Rose Bowl Preview

Sean JacksonContributor IIIDecember 28, 2009

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 21: Head coach Jim Tressel of the Ohio State Buckeyes walks the sideline next to Terrelle Pryor #2 while playing the Michigan Wolverines on November 21, 2009 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ohio State won the game 21-10. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

As preparations for the Rose Bowl come to a close, it’s time for what could be the most unique matchup of the bowl season.

The two teams have polar opposite styles of play. The big matchup will be Oregon’s explosive offense against Ohio State’s defense. Oregon averages 236 rushing yards a game, while Ohio State’s defense is holding opponents to 83 yards a game.

Both teams present unique challenges to the other. For Ohio State , Oregon will test their defense in a way it hasn’t been tested all season.

Oregon stretches the field and designs plays to give their playmakers one on one situations. While Ohio State has seen the spread from teams like Purdue and Michigan, their versions pale in comparison to Oregon's.

Oregon’s speed, precision, playmakers, and play design make them very dangerous.

Oregon , on the other hand, will see a defense it hasn’t seen all season.

Ohio State has size and speed up front that Oregon’s offensive line has not faced. The Buckeye defense is great at closing in on running lanes and making open field tackles. Oregon will have to find ways to use Ohio State’s strengths against them or it will be Boise State all over again.

Three reasons Oregon will win:

1. Jeremiah Masoli

This game will largely come down to quarterback play. While Ohio State’s run defense has been spectacular, their pass defense has been bad at times.

Masoli is known for his running ability, but can beat teams with his arm. Oregon’s offense poses many problems because they have the ability to attack defenses in many ways.

Expect Oregon to try and soften Ohio State’s defense with passing routes in hopes of opening up the ground game. If the game comes down to it, Masoli has shown he is capable of handling the pressure.

2. Oregon’s rush defense

Oregon defense is not large, but they make up for their lack of size with speed and technique.

Oregon’s rushing defense is largely underrated. They’re giving up just 127 rushing yards a game. If Oregon can stuff Ohio State’s ground game, it will force the Buckeyes to pass, something they have not been able to do well all year.

3. Oregon’s Playmaking ability

The problem with Oregon is they’re going to score points; it’s just a matter of when.

Arizona and Oregon State played pretty good games defensively against the Ducks, but one big play was what gave the Ducks the win. The Ducks have the ability to attack teams with their zone option read, tight end passes down the middle, or deep balls. They also have an amazing running back in LaMichael James .

James is shifty and tough to bring down. On top of that, Jeremiah Masoli is shifty and physical. Ohio State can stop Oregon on 95 percent of their plays; it’s the other five percent that go for touchdowns that could win Oregon the game.

Three reasons why Ohio State will win

1. Ohio State’s defense

If any defense has the ability to shut down the Ducks, Ohio State has it.

Ohio State is big and physical up front. Their linebackers are good at reading the gaps and making open field tackles. Their ability to stuff the run could ground Oregon’s high powered offense, as their offense largely depends on their ability to run.

If Ohio State can disrupt the Ducks offensive rhythm, it could shutdown the Ducks.

2. Oregon’s secondary

Oregon’s secondary isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either. Expect Ohio State to be just a tad more aggressive than they have been.

They’ll still rely heavily on the running game, but expect them to pass more often in hopes of opening up running lanes. If Terrelle Pryor can hit some short passes early, it can give him momentum. Ohio State should try a few deep balls to DeVier Posey . Teams have had success going down field against the Ducks’ secondary.

It’s up to Ohio State’s ability to take advantage of what Oregon's defense will give them.

3. Ohio State’s past BCS performances

This isn’t to say the game is not as important to Oregon, a win would springboard them to a top five finish and a good preseason ranking in 2010.

Ohio State needs this game. Their seniors are 0-3 in BCS games. The national media has been harping on Ohio State for not showing up on the big stage.

The coaches know it, the players know it. They want to win it for their coach, their seniors, and their fans. The underdog angle could play a huge advantage and give Ohio State the attitude it needs to win this game.

The X Factors

1. Kicking game

Kicker Morgan Flint is a big weapon for the Ducks. He’s made 15 field goals (out of 17 attempts) and made all 52 extra points.

On the flip side, Ohio State kickers Aaron Pettrey and Devin Barclay have made 17 field goals (out of 26 attempts). They are 40-of-41 on the year on extra points. If this game comes down to kicking, Oregon could have the advantage.

2. Ohio State’s offensive line

Ohio State’s offensive line has come up big recently and it is important they continue this trend.

In Ohio State’s two losses to USC and Purdue, they rushed for only 88 and 66 yards respectively. Ohio State will rely on the line to give Pryor time to throw and open lanes for both Brandon Saine and Dan “Boom” Herron . If the line shows up to play, Ohio State wins, if they don’t it will be a long offseason for the Buckeyes.


This game should live up to its billing as one of the better bowl matchups.

Expect Ohio State to take a more balanced approach on offense, trying to keep Oregon on its toes. Pryor will be an effective game manager and will make a play or two with his arm. He won’t be spectacular but he won’t be bad either.

Oregon will try to soften up Ohio State’s ground game with options, down field looks, and draws. The difference in the game will be Ohio State’s physical defense which will wear down the Ducks. Ohio State will break its three bowl losing streak and send its seniors out on a high note.

Ohio State 34, Oregon 27


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