By Ryan of The Sportmeisters
The NCAA post-season kicks off December 19th , with 34 games being played in a three week span. Seniors will get their last hurrah, and teams will attempt to end their season on the winning side, in the hopes of improving recruiting that follows afterwords.The Sportmeisters will preview each of the 33 games that lie ahead, and provide our predictions as well. Let’s get to it!
Rose Bowl, January 1st, 4:30 PM, Pasadena, CA
No. 8 Ohio State (10-2) vs. No. 7 Oregon (10-2)
About Ohio State : Ohio State was nearly upset in their season opener, and then lost at the end of the game to USC. Not the best way to start off a hopeful BCS run.
They got their act together, reeling off wins in nine of their last ten games to clinch the Big Ten title and a shot in the Rose Bowl.
Ohio State has one of the most well-known QBs in Sophomore Terrelle Pryor, but it’s more for his legs now, than his arm. The Buckeyes are a paltry 106th in NCAA FBS in passing yards (165.92), but hold down the 19th spot in rushing yards (198.92).
That starts with leading rusher Pryor, who has 707 yards and seven touchdowns. He gets support from RBs Brandon Saine and Daniel Herron, who have combined for 1401 yards and 11 touchdowns. This gives Ohio State a plethora of options in their running game.
When Pryor does have to pass, he’ll more often than not throw to Sophomore WR DeVier Posey, who leads the team with 52 catches for 727 yards and seven touchdowns.
In true Big Ten fashion, Ohio State uses their defense to win championships. They enjoy slowing it down and grinding out, and when you have a top five defense, why not? Ohio State gives up a mere 262.50 yards a game (fifth in NCAA FBS), and opponents only score 12.17 points a game, also fifth in NCAA FBS.
The Buckeyes defense is aggressive, and has a +1.33 turnover margin, good for fourth in NCAA FBS. They are led by Senior DB Kurt Coleman, who has 64 tackles (2.5 for loss), a sack, three forced fumbles, and a team leading five interceptions. Junior LB Ross Homan leads the squad with 96 tackles, two sacks, and four interceptions.
Ohio State will punish you defensively, giving their offense a short field to score points
About Oregon : Chip Kelly’s coaching debut was marred after an opening-season loss to Boise State, and the actions of LeGarrette Blount .
Oregon refused to quit, even after suspending Blount, winning seven straight. Three of those seven wins were over ranked programs such as Utah, California, and USC. An upset loss at Stanford put the Pac-10 title in doubts, but Oregon pushed on, winning three more in a row, including a Civil War victory over Oregon State to clinch the Pac-10 title.
Oregon boasts an offense capable of scoring 37.67 points a game (seventh in NCAA FBS), thanks to their ability to move the ball (25th in NCAA FBS with 424.67 yards a game). That mostly comes from the sixth ranked rushing attack (236.08 yards a game). Once Blount was suspended, the question became, who would fill in? That responsibility fell on RB LaMichael James, a Freshman won ran for 1476 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Right behind him is athletic QB Jeremiah Masoli, who compiled 2725 total yards and 27 touchdowns. WR Jeff Maehl and TE Ed Dickson are the primary go-to receivers for Masoli, combining for 1237 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Oregon does have an effective defense, giving up 329.42 yards a game (32nd in NCAA FBS) and 23.58 points (52nd in NCAA FBS). While numbers-wise, it is nothing special, they do have some playmakers when needed.
Junior LB Kenny Rowe is one of those bright spots, with 36 tackles (11 for loss), 8.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Freshman DB John Boyett leads the team with 78 tackles and two interceptions. Oregon will wear opposing defenses down, and run right to glory.
The Matchup : Ohio State is 18-22 in bowl games, losing three straight, all BCS games. This is their tenth straight bowl appearance, with this being their fifth straight BCS game.
Oregon is 9-13, having won two bowl games in a row. This will be their fifth straight bowl game.
Ohio State is 7-0 against Oregon, including a win in the 1958 Rose Bowl. The most recent matchup between the two was a 24-14 win for the Buckeyes in 1987.
Ohio State will run on Oregon, using an option zone-read between Pryor, Saine and Herron. This will make it tough for Oregon’s defense, which gives up close to 140 yards a game, to stop all three options.
With Pryor’s issue in the pocket, Oregon will be best limiting the blitzes, instead putting a LB such as Casey Matthews on him in a Spy formation. With a number of rushing options, Oregon will have to sit at home and not overpursue, or risk watching one of the three head straight to the end zone.
Much like Ohio State, Oregon will use an option for Masoli and James. Both have amazing breakaway speed, but Ohio State has a top five defense that is smart in their pursuits.
Despite lacking a star, Ohio State has a number of personnel they will rotate around, showing different looks to Masoli. These looks will be to keep both inside the tackles, where they will have more difficult gaining big chunks of yards.
The Prediction : Ohio State is the more disciplined team, and I expect them to prevent big gains from Masoli and James. Ohio State wins 31-20.