Sugar Bowl: Chokehio St. Proves Luck Trumps Quality in Game They Should've Lost

Larry BurtonSenior Writer IJanuary 5, 2011

Tressel couldn't believe the lead kept slipping away
Tressel couldn't believe the lead kept slipping away

Larry Burton (Syndicated Writer)—A lucky fumble recovered for a touchdown gave them seven. Tons of dropped passes cost Arkansas even more points. Even with all the gifts Ohio State was given when push came to shove, they, just like the rest of the Big Ten's best, proved they can't beat the teams that finished mid pack in the SEC.

It must have been a nightmare for Jim Tresel, watching both the early lead his team built up washing away as both momentum and the score started going Arkansas' way.

Washing away just as quickly was the pride and stature of the Big Ten.

With less than six minutes remaining after the Hogs had stopped the Buckeyes on a critical fourth down try, yet another dropped pass by Arkansas looked like fate was finally intervening for Ohio State and the Big Ten.

With 4:33 remaining, all Ohio State and that potent offense had to do was simply pick up a few first downs and run the clock and walk away victorious.

They did in fact grind down the clock, but they did have to punt and give Arkansas just one more chance.

A team plays differently when it's playing not to lose instead of trying to win. Tressel and his play calling were as much to blame as the players failure to execute.

With barely over a minute to go, it looked like Arkansas would win it all when the Hogs blocked a punt.

But fate dealt the team from Arkansas just one more blow when Mallett threw an interception and Ohio State was simply able to take two knees and win.

Ohio State won the game but didn't make the statement the Big Ten hoped they'd make. Were it not for a fumble recovered in the end zone or any number of other plays that could be either be counted as lucky or unlucky, Ohio State and the Big Ten leave with nothing but ridicule and scorn.

Does the Big Ten co-champion barely beating a perennial also ran SEC team that could arguably be the third or forth best team in SEC, with all these funny bounces and dropped balls, really save that much face?

Well a win is a win, but no statement was made and little dignity was saved for the Big Ten.