Game Thirteen: Oregon Ducks
Location: The Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA) 5 PM EST, ABC
Head Coach: Chip Kelly
Oregon Players Who Were Recruited By Ohio State : N/A.
When Oregon Is On Offense vs. Ohio State's Defense:
Oregon is led by QB Jeremiah Masoli, who is equally dangerous running or throwing the ball. Masoli is most effective when outside the pocket, so Ohio State's interior defensive line will need to do their best to contain Masoli inside.
RB LaMichael James is listed at 5'9", 180 lbs, and is capable of going the distance if able to find a seam in the defense. RB LaGarrette Blount served a suspension for most of the season, only to come back late in the season against Oregon State. Blount is more of a pounding type back, versus James' style as a scatback. I believe James will get the bulk of the carries, as James emerged as the primary offensive ball carrier for Oregon this season. Again, Ohio State's interior defensive line will need to clog the running lanes to slow down LaMichael James.
A big matchup concern for Ohio State will be Oregon TE Ed Dickson. At 6'5", 243 lbs, Dickson can serve as an extra offensive lineman blocking but showed he was an especially effective receiver this season as well. It will be worth watching to see if Ohio State tries to cover Dickson with a linebacker such as Ross Homan or shades a safety like Jermale Hines to cover Dickson.
When Ohio State Is On Offense vs. Oregon's Defense
While neither RB Brandon Saine nor RB Daniel "Boom" Herron are are the traditional Ohio State power backs such as Keith Byars or Chris Wells, both have had solid seasons and should get many carries against Oregon.
QB Terrelle Pryor has also become more of the traditional Jim Tressel caretaker QB in the latter part of the season, ever since the Purdue loss Oct. 17. Pryor suffered an ankle injury against New Mexico State, and recently disclosed he had also been playing with a torn PCL this season. It will be interesting to see how effective Pryor will be against Oregon running the ball.
WRs Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey are both having solid seasons as Pryor's go-to receivers. While Sanzenbacher is more of a possession receiver, Posey can serve as both an intermediate and a deep threat catching the ball. With the suspensions of WRs Ray Small and Duron Carter , I believe Ohio State will use TE Jake Ballard more on short to intermediate routes as Ballard presents matchup challenges similar to Oregon's Ed Dickson.
Slight Edge: Ohio State
If Ohio State can control the clock, keeping Oregon on the sidelines while tiring the Oregon defense, Ohio State wins this game.
Special Teams : Ohio State is handicapped going into this game, with the suspension of Ray Small plus the loss of PK Aaron Pettrey due to injury. P Jon Thoma has not been nearly as effective as he was earlier this season, so I believe Oregon gets the nod going into The Rose Bowl.
Intangibles: Oregon is the logical favorite going into this game, considering their explosive offense and Ohio State's bowl troubles ever since the 2007 BCS Championship Game. While the media tends to drone on and on about Jim Tressel's boring style , I believe they are actually helping Ohio State psychologically by dismissing Ohio State's chances in this game.
Slight Edge: Ohio State
Prediction: While Oregon may have the flash, I believe "Tressel Ball" shows up in Pasadena and shows that controlling the clock and playing solid defense are a winning formula to start off 2010. I am going to say Ohio State 28, Oregon 24 .