The 2009 version of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl will pit two of the most storied college football programs of all time against each other. Unfortunately for the Fiesta Bowl, it's not the two that it could have been.
On January 5th the Texas Longhorn's will be reunited on the field of play with the Ohio State Buckeyes for the third time in four years. This game is sure to be a ratings coup for the Fiesta Bowl as these two programs have two of the largest fan bases in the country.
The game will bring many intriguing elements along with the two teams. It will be a classic battle of great defense vs. great offense. The Buckeyes rank 8th in total defense and 7th in scoring defense. The Longhorns meanwhile rank 9th in total offense and 5th in scoring offense. It will provide an answer to the ultimate question, does great defense beat great offense?
Then there will be the Texas subplot of being left out of the National Championship. Many will watch and see how the Longhorn's perform, and base their judgement of whether or Texas truly deserved to be in the National Championship game or not. For Texas, there is still a slim hope of a split national championship if OU can win ugly, and Texas can win big. If that happens, then perhaps the folks in the AP will remember Texas beating OU earlier in the season.
Ohio State brings a plot of their own into the game. Many people feel the Buckeyes don't deserve this game, but only get to be in it because of the name on their chest. That may be true, but they are still the co-Big Ten champions.
People will also want to see if Ohio State can break their dry spell in BCS games. There was a time not too long ago that Ohio State was the surest bet you could make to pick a team to win a BCS bowl game. Now, two devastating losses later, people have no faith in the Buckeyes. This is their chance to reclaim some lost credibility for the Big Ten.
Finally, there is the renewal of the two game series that Ohio State and Texas played in 2005 and 2006. Both games were won by the visiting team, and both winning teams went on to play in the National Championship, but with different results.
This game will give Ohio State the chance to show Texas what defending Vince Young was like. Terrelle Pryor, though not as polished as Vince was in 2005, is one of the most popular players in the game right now, and he will have his big stage for a chance at a coming out party, or we will see how much improvement he still needs.
All of these are very compelling story lines that the Fiesta Bowl can hang its hat on to attract viewers. Viewers isn't something that they should be short on for this game. However, you have to believe that they were very close to an even more intriguing and lucrative match up.
If it hadn't been for Oregon going and spoiling the Rose Bowl dreams of Oregon State, the Fiesta Bowl would be looking at a dream matchup of Texas vs. USC. If the BCS had a plus one system this could be the other game alongside Florida/Oklahoma.
If this game had come to fruition we might even be calling it National Championship game B. I mean honestly who wouldn't tune in to see this game. Two teams that are the BCS national championship rejects, but deserve to be there every bit as much as the two teams that are.
Also, everyone would be salivating at the chance to see the rematch from one of the greatest games ever played, the 2006 Rose Bowl. With USC complaining about having to play in Pasadena yet again (OH MY GOD what a burden), the change of scenery would have been nice for the men of Troy and their followers. With Southern Cal being so close to Tempe you better believe their fans would show up in droves to see SC exact revenge on its national championship record setting spoiler foe.
I guess we can only reminisce about what might have been. Not only does the BCS screw the fans out of chances for their teams to play for national championships, it screws them out of great matchups due to bowl tie-in's. So lets all congratulate Oregon on ruining it for the rest of us. OH, Thank you mighty Ducks.