Buckeyes dominant on both sides in Rose Bowl win

Photo Credit: Chris Williams/Icon SMI

Roses, Son

The Buckeyes took to the field in Pasadena yesterday afternoon against an Oregon team that was predicted by many to win the game handily.

In its first offensive possession OSU came out and did something that nobody expected them to do: throw the ball, and more surprisingly throw the ball very well. The passing game was controlled and calculated, keeping the aggressive UO defense caught on its heels many times.

The offense most assuredly benefited from much improved execution by QB Terrelle Pryor, who finished the game as MVP with 338 total yards of offense. Mental errors were largely avoided by Pryor in this one, and aside from forcing one downfield interception (after overlooking a wide open Brandon Saine in the flat) Pryor avoided big mental blunders, even while taking 4 sacks.

While Pryor’s play is deservedly getting a lot of the attention (IT’S OBVIOUS THAT HE’S FINALLY VINCE YOUNG, DUMB-DUMBS!!!), a largely overlooked fact is that his performance hinges directly on the willingness of the offensive staff to go to a gameplan that throws early and throws often. In a post-game interview with ESPN (see below), Tress talks about the best look from the offense being in practices against the #1 defense in which they only passed. Having the courage to enact this gameplan on such a big stage takes cajones, though it certainly helps when the opposing defense is most suspect in the secondary. The game was won by Pryor’s arm (both throwing and stiff-arming OMG) and the trust that was placed in it. It also helped that Jake Ballard has mad hops.

On the defensive side of things, the Buckeyes did well to contain Oregon’s offense to the extent that they did. Jim Heacock and Luke Fickell called a great gameplan (and honestly the game-calling all around was fantastic aside from the offense slipping up a bit in th middle quarters). The defensive line disrupted a lot of Oregon’s passing plays, while Ross Homan and the linebackers stayed honest and defended the read-option as well as one would hope.

The defense wasn’t perfect but most assuredly was good enough. After Kurt Coleman got run over by LaGarrette Blount for a TD in the second quarter, Blount later fumbled a handoff through the endzone for a touchback. At that point UO had a good amount of momentum, and the fumble was huge. At another point Brian Rolle got run through by undersized (but who apparently squats 475) Jeremiah Masoli, which is embarrassing for any LB.

Ryan Hamby he is not.

Ryan Hamby he is not.

The special teams game came up huge in this game, as one would expect from any game involving JPT at the helm. Oregon’s return game was absolutely killer, setting them up seemingly at midfield after every OSU kickoff or punt. On the other side of the coin, the Bucks sorely missed having any semblance of a return game. Though the return game was hugely in Oregon’s favor, the Bucks had a clear advantage in the kicking aspect of things (aside from kicking kickoffs, which OSU was the worstest at). After seeing Oregon go for it on fourth down twice around their own 30, it was pretty clear to me that they had zero faith in their kicker. When they decided to take the points with 5 minutes to go in the game and try a 40+ yard field goal, it was clear why they didn’t. Miss, wide right. Meanwhile, OSU’s kicking game was dandy, whilst juggling between two kickers.

Benefiting from and taking advantage of mistakes is paramount in the Tressel play-style, and the Bucks managed to do just that. By limiting Oregon’s options and the time the Ducks had the ball (Time of Possession: OSU 42 minutes, Oregon 18 HOLY CRAP), the Buckeyes kept themselves in the driver’s seat.

Haterz across the country will say that the Bucks beat a down Oregon team, who comes from a down conference. To that I say keep hating, you small-minded children, for I grow stronger with each of your tears. Nearly every pundit called for an Oregon win, and most called for a blowout (props to you for picking the Bucks, Kirk Chris Fowler). An Oregon win would have established the Pac-10 superiority and perpetuated the BUX SUX meme, but lo and behold the Buckeyes won. After referring to the BUX = SUX flow chart it can easily be determined that BUX win = opponent SUX, therefore BUX = SUX. Whatever. Roses, son.

The Buckeyes can’t singlehandedly get the Big Ten back into respectability (great, great win yesterday Penn State), but by winning the Grandfather of All of Them is the first step to getting the team’s big game allure going. When the best team in the conference is winning its bowl game, the rest of the conference looks better by extension.

Plenty of people will go ahead and get well, well ahead of themselves with declarations about next season. I’ll be right here on my couch, smiling and enjoying this win for what it was – a great win for a senior class that had yet to win a bowl game. Coach Tressel needed this win just about as much as anyone, and you can tell that he was pretty happy after the game (“Well, they’re pretty sober”). Kudos to the man who got the team there and had the confidence in the offense to take the training wheels off on the biggest of stages.

Time and change will surely show, how firm thy friendship O-HI-O.

Roses, son.

Photo Credits: Chris Williams/Icon SMI (Pryor), Jeff Gross/Getty Images (Ballard)

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com DP

    The moment Lee Corso put on the Duck head, you had to know OSU was golden.

    I will say this about TP; he definitely took a step forward last night. The only thing I would say about him is that if he wants to take the next step and make himself into an NFL-caliber quarterback, he has to learn to release the ball much quicker. Even on some of his out throws, it looks like he has to completely load him arm up to make the throw. His moon-balls deep downfield have been things of lore, but that stuff doesn’t work in the NFL. You have to be able to just flick the ball quickly on those shorter routes, and he doesn’t have that kind of release yet. If he learns it this summer, then the sky’s the limit for him.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    Tim Tebow thinks that Pryor’s wind-up is just fine.

  • Seth

    Not to nitpick, but it’s Chris Fowler, and yes, mad props to him for picking the Bucks. I hope Corso chokes on that stupid Duck quacker.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    The Big Ten detractors are mighty quiet today. Bayless hasn’t said a word yet, choosing to focus on the FL game.

  • http://alterdestiny.blogspot.com Mr. Trend

    Strange that those who insist that the Pac-10 was in a down year this year were bragging about it being the best conference in the country prior to the bowl season. Funny what a Rose Bowl loss (and a 2-5 bowl record overall) will do to silly talk like that.

  • deebo

    Nice win. Feels good not to be Waiting for Next Year for once…
    Next up the Cavaliers in June.

  • JJ From AK

    If Iowa can get a win in their BCS Bowl, this will be a near perfect Bowl season for the Big 10 regardless of the Alamo Bowl result.

  • Ike

    Tressel/Bollman and Fickell/Heacock called a masterful game. Congrats and kudos to all four.

    It looks like Pryor has taken that next step but we’ll see next September.

    What a way to kick off 2010…O-H

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    The recent history of USC football is a pattern of losing to unranked teams, costing them a chance to play in the national championship game, which, as everyone will recall with glee, they lost last time. Losing to a 42-point underdog, finishing sixth in the PAC-10, exhibiting tons of “what’s your deal?” poor sportsmanship is typical. At least Ohio State loses to good teams, gets into the big games, while USC stands on the sidelines with their fans whining. The game isn’t played with a “what if?” It’s on the field. Here’s the real story on USC’s program. A must read. Especially you USC fans, because you’re good at hating other teams but the only thing you should really hate is the truth:

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  • Tsunami

    I thoroughly enjoyed the game. Our defense held them to 17 points and they started almost every drive at mid-field. Very impressive. I thought we weren’t supposed to handle the spread?

    OSU provin the haterz wrong. Cavs are up next.