It’s been a dismal bowl season for the Big Ten but Ohio State can restore some pride to the conference with victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.
Stay of execution The decision by the NCAA to defer suspensions of five Buckeyes, including starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, until after tonight’s Sugar Bowl should have massive implications for this game. Jim Tressel, the Buckeyes’ coach, insists the players have promised to return next season and serve their suspensions but a big performance tonight could see some of them change their tune. Returning after suspension doesn’t appear to have hurt A.J. Green’s draft stock but Pryor, DeVier Posey, and Dan Herron, aren’t quite at his freakish level of talent. A signature performance in a BCS game may be all the convincing these players need to turn pro.
Putting aside their motivations for a moment, Pryor and the rest of Ohio State’s stars have stepped up in the post-season these past two years. A gutsy showing in the Fiesta Bowl against Texas two years ago was followed up with a Rose Bowl win last year. These Buckeyes have shown they can find an extra gear on offense, one that was lacking a few years back.
Mallett’s precision could be a factor While potential NFL millions await him in April, Ryan Mallett still has some unfinished business to attend to with Arkansas. Despite leading the Razorbacks to their first BCS bowl since the system began, Mallett must still answer questions over his ability to win big games. The quarterback showed an ability to fight back in the face of adversity against LSU where he led the Hogs to a 31-23 victory despite giving up two picks. He needs to show the same tenacity but great accuracy tonight in order for Arkansas to triumph.
The Verdict The Buckeyes have everything to prove when they take the field in the Superdome. Terrelle Pryor showed last year that he can take his game to the next level when playing on the big stage. I expect a big performance from the Ohio State quarterback. Look for Pryor to use his legs to keep the Razorbacks’ defense honest. While Arkansas defend the pass well, they have given up some cheap rushing yards this year. Pryor’s dual-threat ability can exploit that to ensure the Buckeyes rack up a big score and keep up with Mallett’s arm. This should be a high-scoring game for College Football betting fans and I’m particularly fond of the first half over of +28.0 points. In terms of the result, it should be reasonably close but I like the Ohio State Buckeyes to win as -3.5 favorites with Sports Interaction.