Blog Entry

Bowl Grades: Sugar Bowl

Posted on: January 5, 2011 2:40 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Ohio State builds a 31-13 second-half lead and -- despite a safety, lost fumble, and blocked punt, all in the fourth quarter -- holds off a furious Arkansas rally to win a classic, 31-26.


Offense: Terrelle Pryor may never be remembered as the dominant force-of-nature his raw talent suggests he can be, but it won't be for his bowl performances. The Sugar Bowl MVP racked up 336 yards-from-scrimmage (221 passing, 115 rushing), accounted for two touchdowns without committing a turnover, and was sensational on third down, converting multiple hopeless-looking situations into third downs with his scrambling.

Add Pryor's night to big ones from Dane Sanzenbacher (only three receptions but two touchdowns, one on a fumble recovery), Boom Herron (87 yards, one score), and the Buckeye offensive line (5.0 yards-per-carry, no sacks allowed vs. the nation's 12th-ranked pass rush) and it's easy to see how the Buckeyes raced out to a 28-7 first-half lead. They had a much rougher second half -- only 110 yards of offense after 336 at halftime, and Herron's safety and fumble handed Arkansas two gift-wrapped opportunities -- but they also never made the killer mistake to let the Hogs all the way back. GRADE: B+

Defense: Start with Cameron Heyward, a night-long nightmare for the Hog offensive line who for all of Pryor's brilliance should have been the game MVP. Then there's the four sacks, the mediocre 5.9 yards allowed per pass play (despite the loss of top corner Chimdi Chekwa to a broken hand early in the game), and the one touchdown allowed over the course of Arkansas's final 12 possessions.

But most of all, there's this: with the Hogs within one possession following the Herron safety, their final four drives started at the 50-yard line, the Arkansas 44, the Ohio State 48, and the OSU 18. Total results of those drives? 39 yards, three points, two punts, and one backbreaking turnover. There's clutch defense, and then there's that. GRADE: A-

A bizarre first-half onsides kick attempt aside, Jim Tressel and his staff pushed the right buttons, kept the defense together in the face of multiple injuries, and had his team plenty ready to play on both sides of the ball. You beat a 10-win SEC team in the Sugar Bowl, you've done a lot of things right, GRADE: A-


The Hogs finished with an impressive 402 yards against the No. 2 defense in the country, but no one's going to remember that. They'll remember the devastating parade of drops from the Hog receivers (six in all, half of them from particularly-butterfingered wideout Joe Adams) , the Swiss cheese pass protection, the wasted opportunity after wasted opportunity down the stretch, and finally the one game-icing mistake from Ryan Mallett. There's a lot to say for an offense that puts up those kinds of yards (including a quiet 139 yards rushing for Knile Davis, if there can be such a thing) and even the 26 points against a defense as stout as the Buckeyes, but as many chances as the Hog defense and special teams gave Bobby Petrino's favorite unit, there's also little question they should have found a way to finish the comeback. GRADE: C-

For most of the first half, the Hogs looked like the rock-bottom group from 2009 rather than the much-improved outfit we saw in 2010, missing tackles left and right (Pryor is one thing, but when Sanzenbacher is juking his way out of tight spots, you've got issues) and leaving massive gaps both up front and in the secondary. 336 first-half yards to an attack as generally non-explosive as the Buckeyes' (not to mention the 28 points) pretty much says it all.

To their credit, the Hogs responded with a huge second half, giving up just one net point after yielding one field goal and scoring a safety of their own. But maybe the offense could have gotten all the way out of the hole if it hadn't been quite so deep to begin with. GRADE: B-

Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson deserves some kudos for his halftime adjustments and Petrino a handful for keeping his team's head in the game down big, but Petrino made some curious play calls (repeatedly asking for draws or screens on third-and-long when his quarterback possesses the strongest arm in the college game) and could have been more aggressive looking for six points late in the game rather than settling for three. Still, the Hogs' biggest problems -- his line's terrible play, the wretched drops -- were more player execution problems than coaching issues. We think. GRADE: B

Games simply don't get a whole lot more dramatic than this one, with the outcome seemingly riding on each and every play in the fourth quarter and momentum swinging back and forth like the needle of a metronome. If this was our appetizer for the BCS national title game, we can't wait for the main course. GRADE: A



Since: Dec 5, 2009
Posted on: January 5, 2011 11:52 am

Bowl Grades: Sugar Bowl

The game was a good one for the Sugar Bowl. Evenly matched, and you couldn't have asked for a better game. But I will say that Ohio State was lucky. This is what they did, they jacked up the score in the first half and then went out to lunch for the second half. Arkansas was on them and could've easily taken that game.  They were lucky that Mallet wasn't on his game, and that interception at the end was lucky too. That punt block was a big play, but had that interception not happened we would be looking at Arkansas as Sugar Bowl champs and the Buckeye nation saying, "We can't figure out the SEC." As far as the 5 players go, I don't see the big deal. So they sold memorabilia and they also sold championship awards. It is despicable to give up such an achievement, but the bottom line is IT'S THEIRS TO DO WHAT THEY WANT WITH IT. But it is interesting to see how much those five will be missed for the beginning of next season. Thomas the game winning interceptor is one of the five. Every one of them contributed highly to the win. Tressel says he got them to come back for next season, for his sake I hope he got that in writing. Tressel will have a plan in place to compensate the absences of his five players, but it's hard to say how they'll fare.

Since: Nov 16, 2010
Posted on: January 5, 2011 11:43 am

Bowl Grades: Sugar Bowl

Well OSU had to finally win one vs Sec. Good thing they did not play Bama or Auburn. Next year polls need to stop ranking so many Big teams so high. The big ten is not a tough schedule when best they have go 2 and 5 in bowls. When every year they get to show how they measure up and lose big. Beating Arkansas in its first BCS game is great but does show much vs Sec. Not until the best in Big ten can beat top powers in Sec consistently for years. Like Sec has this last decade and this bowl season again. I hate the Sec but they have the best teams until they lose more bowls to big ten then they win for a few years. If Oregon beats Auburn then IMO this year Pac ten had best 2 teams. The way Stanford looked I doubt anyone beat them today. That was a NFL offense and defense beating up on teams this year. They played one bad half and Oregon came back to beat them. Over 2 teams in a confernce Sec will stay the best.  This year Monday night will decide the conference with best 2 teams. Pac Ten or Sec. If Aubrun wins no matter what rankings end up IMO means Bama and Tigers are best 2 teams. If Aburn losses then Oregon and Stanford are. TCU is good but  this year IMO would not beat Oregon, Stanford, Bama or Auburn. Since they beat Wisc they clearly could beat OSU as well.

Since: Mar 23, 2010
Posted on: January 5, 2011 11:38 am

Bowl Grades: Sugar Bowl

That was one heck of a game, Arkansas didn't help themselves at all, Ohio State capitalized on many opportunities. Buckeyes earned that win, and I hope the NCAA gets it right and reduces the 5-game suspension to 2 - 3.

Since: Nov 25, 2007
Posted on: January 5, 2011 10:45 am

Bowl Grades: Sugar Bowl

Well, if all people want to talk about is the 5 players, then fine.  There was plenty of time for that before the game.  The decision was made and they played.  All that really matters is the game and the best team won.  Ohio State came out with a better game plan, better preparation despite all the distractions, and much better execution.  The OSU defense held Mallet to I think his worst completion average of the season and even the Arkansas coach even admitted that the OSU d-line gave them fits.  On offense, the o-line was and Pryor were great.  The Arkansas defense didn't get to Pryor once and forced no turnovers.  I think the last 4 possessions for Arkansas started at or inside the 50 yard line and Arkansas came away with 6 points and an interception.  At some point you have to admit that the OSU players and coaches outplayed Arkansas.  You might not like it, but it happened.

Since: Nov 19, 2010
Posted on: January 5, 2011 10:33 am

Bowl Grades: Sugar Bowl

I'll try not to :whine: Tongue out but those snot-nosed punks should not have been allowed to play last nite. Common Sense tells us this. If a smaller school or Boise or TCU, etc. had committed this infraction the NCAA would've thrown the book at 'em and probably lobbied hard for the Death Penalty!

NCAA - Notta Consistent Athletic Association!

Since: Dec 4, 2007
Posted on: January 5, 2011 10:21 am

Bowl Grades: Sugar Bowl

"Overrated State University" ... "Tattoo U" ... haha y'all are too funny.  The haters are out.  Hi haters.  Another great BCS win for the Buckeyes.  Another great bowl performance by TP.  The way the "suspended 5" played and showed remorse after the win (whether they really meant it or not) was great too.  The fact is The Ohio State University is one of the top 3-4 programs of the past decade, and they started out this decade the same way.  Also, I gotta give some props to the Arkansas fans.  That place was electric, and they outnumbered us like 2-1.  I'm not going to hate on the SEC or their fans.  You guys are great and are a big reason college football what it is.  Go Bucks.

Since: Oct 3, 2009
Posted on: January 5, 2011 10:08 am

Bowl Grades: Sugar Bowl

Wow, that's the whiniest post I've seen in some time. Impressive.

Since: Apr 12, 2009
Posted on: January 5, 2011 10:04 am

Bowl Grades: Sugar Bowl

The Overrated State University would of never won without their five suspended players. You know how much crap this is? THEY NEVER SHOULD OF PLAYED IN THE FIRST PLACE!! If this was any other Big Ten team, even Michigan, the players would have been suspended, even if it was the Sugar Bowl, even if the school lost out on a lot of money. But that's what it's all about. Money. If this was Arkansas, you bet Ryan Mallet would of been suspended. But it's Jim Tressel, who let's his players do whatever they want whenever they feel like it. He'll bail them out because the NCAA doesn't have the guts to place serious sanctions on "The" Overrated State University. Pryor will continue to screw up, and get away with it. Wow, I bet he's all scared that he's suspended for the first five insignificant games, which will be likely reduced to 2 games because it's Terrell Pryor and we can't even imagine that OSU wouldn't have a chance at a run of a national title. Plus he's needs a chance at the Heisman. Good grief.

Since: Nov 25, 2007
Posted on: January 5, 2011 9:35 am

Bowl Grades: Sugar Bowl

And one other thing.....all the Arkansas fans who are complaining about an Arkansas "loss" more than an OSU win are only focusing on the Arkansas offense.  Where was the Arkansas defense.  0 sacks.  0 turnovers.  Your defense did nothing to help the cause.  And Mallet was throwing against against 2 freshman and a sophomore...basically our second string defensive corps.  'nuf said.

Since: Nov 25, 2007
Posted on: January 5, 2011 9:29 am

Bowl Grades: Sugar Bowl

More of an Arkansas loss?  You're kidding me.  Maybe if you're only talking about the 2nd half but that was a beatdown in the first half and had nothing to do with Arkansas "losing" it.  OSU was moving the ball at will.  I agree that Arkansas missed some chances but the OSU defense was stout all game and forced Mallet into some bad and/or early decisions and disrupted his rhythm. 

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