Creature v Creature: How New Silver Bullets Will Buck Bowl Game Slump

Tim Bielik@bielik_timSenior Analyst IDecember 10, 2009

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 21: Head coach Jim Tressel of the Ohio State Buckeyes encourages his players before the game against 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

New Years' Day in 2006 was the last day that Ohio State has won a BCS bowl game, a 34-20 blowout over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.

Since then, Ohio State has been blown out in shocking fashion one year, overmatched and overrun the next, and fell one minute short of pulling a huge upset on the national bowl spotlight.

But Buckeye Nation has high hopes that the tide will finally turn and 2009 can be the start of something great.

The Rose Bowl will be their first since 1997, and the Buckeyes' fifth straight BCS bowl appearance.

Standing in the way of turning things around seem to be the polar opposite of Ohio State, a program centered around defense and protecting the football.

Oregon is a high-powered team that plays aggressive and fast on both sides of the ball, which can cause them to get burned at times, whether by turnovers or big plays.

These two teams seem to be pretty evenly matched, as both have question marks on the side of the ball which has not been so dominant all season.

The Buckeyes' offense has been maligned and gone through multiple identity crises throughout the year during Terrelle Pryor's growth process.

But few can doubt that the offense has found an identity, running the football with multiple looks and sets, including a little Wildcat sprinkled into the mix.

Oregon's defense has come into question after giving up 51, 21, 31, and 33 points in the final four games.

To put that in perspective, Ohio State's defense has not given up more than three touchdowns in any game all season long.

And the Buckeyes have in recent memory been able to tame some high-powered offenses, holding Penn State's vaunted Spread HD in 2008 to 13 points, and Texas in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl to 24 points, their lowest output of the season.

But as good as they can be, they have also had letdowns, especially in their stunning loss to Purdue.

This time around, fans are seeing less and less of a soft zone defense that has agonized fans for years.

Oddly enough, the defense seems to play to the level of their competition, where they are at their fastest and most aggressive when the opposing offense is better.

Offensively, it's basically a roll of the dice as to what we get.

The offense has never been flashy for most of the Jim Tressel era. But when the offensive line is into the game, the balanced running attack can be a load to handle, as long as the playcalling doesn't get conservative.

If the offense can perfect some new wrinkles and use their weapons at their fullest extent, they can put up some points.

And if Pryor can get off to a good start throwing the football, that's when the offense is at its best.

The point with the offense is that there are too many variables to guess if they can be productive or not.

But they will need to match the defense's intensity levels in order to pull off a win over a big BCS opponent, something that Ohio State has not done in four years.

For the Oregon CvC perspective, check out Caleb M.'s piece here.


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