It didn’t take a genius to wonder how Ohio State planned on slowing down Oregon’s high-powered offense, which averaged nearly 38 points and 425 total yards. The answer was limit the number of plays at the Ducks’ disposal.
In the end, Ohio State executed a near-flawless game-plan, with quarterback Terrelle Pryor showing off his unique skill-set, as he pushed the Buckeyes to a 26-17 triumph in the 96th Rose Bowl last Friday before 93,963 customers.
The Buckeyes held an edge in plays (89-53), first downs (26-12), time of possession (41:37-18:23), and total net yards (419-260).
Pryor was voted the Offensive Most Valuable Player after accounting for 266 yards through the air, with a pair of touchdowns, one interception, and a team-best 72 yards on 20 carries.
Pryor dished out several stiff arms, reminding many of Texas quarterback Vince Young, who led the Longhorns to victories over Michigan and USC at this same venue.
“I’m thankful for my ability,” said Pryor, a sophomore, who completed 23 of 37 attempts. “I just wanted to prove I’m an all-around quarterback.”
After consecutive Bowl Championship Series losses to Florida and Louisiana State in the title game, and Texas in the Fiesta Bowl, No. 8 Ohio State came out throwing, with Pryor tossing six straight passes, along with a nifty 24-yard bootleg, before capping the 74-yard, 10-play drive with a 13-yard strike to running back Brandon Saine with 11:37 showing, and a 7-0 lead.
When the Buckeyes dropped a 26-18 decision to Purdue, Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel went conservative, allowing Pryor to average only 17 passes in five straight wins.
On this day, Tressel went against the grain, and Pryor found five different receivers, including DeVier Posey (eight receptions for 101 yards), who hauled in a 17-yard scoring pass with 7:02 left in the fourth quarter, giving the Buckeyes a nine-point lead.
“This is a great game, and one we wanted to win,” said Tressel, who directed the Buckeyes to the title seven years ago. “In the past, we’ve been in a different BCS game, but this is a big win for us.”
Ohio State (11-2) moved ahead 10-0 late in the first quarter, when Devin Barclay connected on a 19-yard field goal. This time the drive consumed five plays and 48 yards, as No. 7 Oregon stayed on the sideline.
Barclay hit a 30-yard field goal late in the second quarter to make it 13-10, and Aaron Pettrey added a 45-yarder to close out the half at 16-10.
The Ducks (10-3) broke loose in the second quarter, tying it at 10-10, when Morgan Flint nailed a 24-yard field goal with 14:24 left, and running back LeGarrette Blount scored from three yards out with 9:14 on the clock.
On second and two from the Ohio State 18, and down, 19-17, in the third quarter, Blount, who was suspended after Oregon’s 19-8 season-opening loss to Boise State, fumbled, and the ball squirted into the end zone for a touchback.
Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli (nine of 20 for 81 yards with one interception) scored on a one-yard romp with 11:03 left in the third quarter, giving the Ducks a 17-16 lead, before Barclay’s 38-yard boot made it 19-17 with 6:36 showing.
Masoli was held to nine yards rushing, while LaMichael James had 70, and Kenjon Barner 64. So much for the Quack Attack.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a contributor to trufanboxing.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.