BCS Bowl Preview: Sugar Bowl

January 3, 2011 – 5:00 pm by McD

(6) Ohio State (11-1) vs. (8) Arkansas (10-2) (+3.5)

Whatever the NCAA’s motives might have been for letting Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey and others play in the Sugar Bowl despite their suspensions, the immediate impact on the game is that virtually no one cares about the actual game anymore.

Every angle for this game is now about whether the Ohio State players should be playing, whether it’s a competitive advantage, whether they’re really coming back next year, whether the NCAA is run competently enough to supervise a litter of puppies, let alone all of college sports, and whether it’s the NCAA that’s in charge of college football and not the BCS and university presidents.

What kills me about it is some fan wanted Terrelle Pryor’s stuff the most out of all the players who were selling items to make money “for their families.” Really? Terrelle Pryor? Exactly what makes him worthy of $2,500 of merchandise? I have yet to see from him anything markedly better than what Craig Krenzel brought to OSU. Both quarterbacks were limited passers, both benefited from good receivers, both could afford mistakes because of the Ohio State defense, and neither is a pro prospect at all.

Actually, that’s not true, because, as Todd McShay said himself for ESPN InSider, a team might take a chance on Pryor because they could convert him into a receiver when he flamed out at quarterback.

I realize how important Pryor is to OSU’s offense. They don’t have Chris Wells like they used to, so their running game has been awful the last two years. But for all the plays he makes, all his skills, shouldn’t his stats be better than 2,551 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and 639 rushing yards? Especially because so much of that production came against horrible, horrible teams (like Indiana. Go Hoosiers!). And those numbers are HUGE improvements upon his previous two seasons. The guy is the focus of the OSU offense and this is the best he could do.

Why did some one want his jersey again?

Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett threw for 3,592 yards and somehow lowered his draft stock. Every bad decision, and there were quite a few, suddenly took on new significance as the new guy (Andrew Luck) was awesome all season. Suddenly, NFL scouts don’t see the new Ben Roethlisberger any more. More like the new Matt Stafford.

I’m unimpressed with this game. Ohio State is going to ugly it up and grind things to a halt because that’s the best way for them to win. Whatever fireworks we might get from Arkansas are going to be tempered by slow OSU possessions and some trademark bad decisions by Mallett.

This game falls upon Arkansas’ defense. If they can keep Ohio State into three-and-outs and maybe just one or two first downs before punts, Arkansas’ offense will have time to score their points. If they let OSU limit posessions, there’s no way Arkansas is going to be efficient enough to win. They’ll be close because Ohio State can’t blow anyone good out, but winning won’t happen. That’s Tressel Ball for you.

Pick: Arkansas

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