Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ohio State—Arkansas: National Rankings Favor Buckeyes Despite SEC-Bowl Game Woes


There, I said it.

It's the elephant in the room, and the giant gorilla on Ohio State's back.

Here's another one for you.


Jim Tressel has faced, and lost to three SEC teams in bowl games since taking over at Ohio State—South Carolina in 2001, Florida in 2006, and LSU in 2007.

On a positive note that might favor Ohio State, Arkansas is 0-3 in bowl games vs. teams from the Big Ten.

Someone's o-fer streak will finally come to an end this year.

We all know the history (key word history), so now that we have that out of the way, let's move forward and talk about this game and this year.

Ryan Mallet / Knile Davis: Buckeye Killers?

I keep hearing (from Arkansas/SEC fans and of course eSECpn) that QB Ryan Mallett is going to pick apart the Buckeye secondary, RB Knile Davis is going to run over and through the Buckeye front seven, and once again (and this one is my favorite of all), Ohio State's offense will be shut down by the blazing SEC speed Arkansas apparently possesses simply by being a team from said South-Eastern-Conference.

Can we change the *#$%^@ record already?

Mallet's best performances this season came against Tennessee Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, Georgia, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, UTEP, and Mississippi State. These teams aren't exactly defensive powerhouses.

Davis had exactly five big games (out of 12 played) the entire season—that is it.

The teams that allowed the most yards to Davis are South Carolina, LSU, Mississippi, UTEP, and Mississippi State.

Nationally, LSU has a top 10 defense and Mississippi State is decent (27th), but South Carolina (48th), UTEP (58th), and Mississippi (108th) all gave up plenty of yards and a lot of points to just about every team they faced.

Don't misconstrue my sentiments here. Mallett and Davis are fine players despite some of the lackluster defenses they faced, but why so many fans and so-called experts are so quick to praise them and project that they are going to dominate in the Sugar Bowl is beyond me...

Ohio State Defense / Arkansas Offense

Am I having a bad dream and this some some alternate universe where the Buckeye defense that gave up just 23 total scores all season is somehow considered mediocre and slow, and thus dismissible?

Let me say that again. This Ohio State defense gave up just 23 total scores (16 touchdowns, seven field goals) all year.

They are No. 2 in total defense (250 yards per game) and No. 3 in scoring defense (13.3 points per game).

On offense, Arkansas is 65th in rushing (151 yards per game), 3rd in passing (338 yards per game), 16th in scoring offense (37.3 points per game) and 10th in total offense (489 yards per game).

I'm not saying Arkansas won't be able to gain yards or score points, but it is very unlikely that the Hogs will equal their season averages. This is the best defense that they will face all year.

Don't expect 500 yards and 40 points from Arkansas. It's not going to happen.

I'm not just making these numbers up either. I have read these kind of projections on numerous SEC-friendly forums and blogs and even on a couple Buckeye sites that the OSU-hater trolls have infiltrated.

Arkansas Defense / Ohio State Offense

The Razorbacks are 34th in total defense (340 yards per game) and 44th in scoring defense (22.8 points per game).

Something of interest worth mentioning—Auburn and Cam Newton, a team and a QB that has been compared to Ohio State and QB Terrelle Pryor, hung 65 on the Hogs "D".

Take that for what it's worth to you, but it could be foreshadowing the future—just saying...

The last time Ohio State gave up 60-plus was in 1994 to Penn State. That season, the Buckeyes were 9-4, while Penn State was 12-0. The Nittany Lions scored 45 or more seven times that year.

The Buckeye offense is 14th in rushing (220 yards per game), 55th in passing (229 yards per game), 11th in scoring offense (39.4 points per game) and 18th in total offense (449 yards per game).

Closing Thoughts

If either of these two teams is going to close in on 500 total yards and 40 points, my money is on the Buckeyes.

That being said, I do not believe either team is going to be that prolific in yards gained or points scored.

On paper, the Buckeyes finally appear poised to earn their first bowl game victory over an SEC opponent in their 10th attempt dating back to 1977.

The game however will be played on the turf (not paper) in New Orleans and when toe meets leather on January 4th at 8:30PM, you can bet this one will be a dogfight.

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