Monday, January 3, 2011

Arkansas - Ohio State Sugar Bowl Prediction

The Razorbacks and Buckeyes tangle in New Orleans in the finale of four SEC vs Big 10 bowl matchups.

When: Jan 4 8:30 PM ET
Where: Who 'Dat Homefield
Line: tOSU -3 (open -3)

Here are the three areas I look at when making  my bowl picks.  I am 20-8 going into the Orange Bowl Monday night.

Who Has The Better Team?
When it comes to offense, I think the Buckeyes have one of the most underrated units in the nation.  Ohio State scores a point every 11.4 yards gained, near the top in college football. 

The Razorbacks average nearly 500 yards per game but score slightly less points than their Sugar Bowl opponent. 

Defensively, Ohio State is allowing just 13 points per game and under 300 total yards (252).  The Bucks are also one of the nation's most efficient giving up a point every 18.9 yards.

The biggest improvement this year for Arkansas is their defense giving up 23 points an outing.  

However, Arkansas' Sagarin ranking is 7th with the 21st ranked strength of schedule.Ohio State ranks 10th in the Sagarin but faced just the 68th toughest schedule.

Jim Tressel's club clearly has the statistical advantage, but some pause must be taken because their schedule was much easier to compile those numbers against.
Edge: Slight Ohio State

Which Team Will Be Better Prepared?
Much has been made of Ohio State's struggles against the SEC in bowl games (0-9, Tressel 0-3), but the Sweater Vest is 5-4 overall in bowl games. Bobby Petrino is 3-2 in bowl games and 1-0 at Arkansas. 

One is known for intricate game plans, the other for playing it safe but fundamentally sound.  Both strategies have worked.
Edge: Even

Which Team Is More Motivated?
The tattoo/gold pants/championship rings for cash scandal threw a wrench into the Buckeyes bowl preparation.  Rumors of team meetings chastising the rule breakers along with promises of a return in exchange for an opportunity to play in the bowl game could be great motivators or deflating.

Ohio State players have no doubt heard a lot about the bowl record against the SEC and vowed to end it, but I doubt they really want this one more than the previous nine contests.
Edge: Slight Arkansas

I will probably be the only blogger who follows the SEC to do this, but I am picking the Buckeyes.  This Arkansas team is not a typical SEC team filled with speed on the defensive side of the ball which has given Ohio State so much trouble. 

Tressel has shown he knows how to manage conflict.  When the Maurice Clarett trouble hit, the Buckeyes rallied for an upset win over Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.

Ohio State 33 Arkansas 28
Confidence 21

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