Sugar Bowl Preview: THE Ohio State Buckeyes v Arkansas Razorbacks

The Ohio State University has never played the Arkansas Razorbacks. So the most telling all-time record might be the Buckeyes 0-9 record versus any SEC opponent in their bowl game history. The last two of which were BCS Championship game blowout losses to Florida and LSU.

The Razorbacks are in the midst of an 8-game win streak with their only losses this season coming to SEC top dogs Alabama and Auburn. Besides a night game loss in Madison, Ohio State plowed through the Big Ten once again to gain a share of their sixth straight Big Ten title.

So what is going to happen when these two programs collide in what is sure to be an exciting game? Let’s look at the game data:

Ohio State-Arkansas Sugar Bowl Game Info

  • Ohio State- Arkansas location: The Superdome – New Orleans, LA
  • Ohio State- Arkansas Kickoff Time: Tuesday January 4th, 8:30pm EST
  • Ohio State- Arkansas TV: ESPN
  • Ohio State- Arkansas Announcers:
  • Ohio State-Arkansas Line: Ohio State -3.5, Over/under 58.5 (via Betus.com)

Ohio State-Arkansas Sugar Bowl Preview

#8 ARKANSAS (10-2, 6-2 in the SEC):

  • Last Game: 31-23 win vs. LSU
  • Coach: Bobby Petrino (63-23 career, 22-14 at Arkansas, 3rd year)
photo by ANTHONY REYES

Arkansas is going BCS bowling for the first time since the BCS’ 1998 inception. Coach Petrino is in his second BCS Bowl Game of his career, the first being with Louisville when they won over Wake Forest (24-13) in the 2007 Orange Bowl. Petrino is 3-2 in Bowl games as a head coach, and he just got a huge extension from the University in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

It cannot be overstated that Arkansas’ two losses came in close games to #1-ranked teams in the nation at their respective times. Besides the normal SEC gauntlet, that easily makes them one of the most impressive 10-2 teams this year.

QB Ryan Mallett was absolutely absurd passing the ball in Petrino’s offense this year with a 170.5 pass efficiency rating (3rd in the nation overall), which was right behind Heisman quarterback invitees Cam Newton and Kellen Moore. Two key things might be an Ohio State advantage on defense though. They are 4th in the nation in pass defense efficiency (96.9 rating) and the coaching staff has seen Mallett once before when he started for Michigan. Though take it from them, they saw talent in Mallett’s abilities in 2007 and were glad he transferred to Arkansas at the time (until now).

Arkansas’ defense has not been that bad and they have many athletes to compete, but the unit really struggled at times this year. Granted, my perspective is somewhat clouded by the Auburn game when they somehow gave up 28 unanswered points in the fourth quarter with a six point lead. If you want to compare Big Ten and SEC quarterbacks/offenses, Terrelle Pryor and Cam Newton and their offensive schemes could be the most comparable. Point being: Arkansas has experience defending a QB with Pryor’s tendancies, but at some point fourth quarter clutch and athleticism may rule in this game.

#6 OHIO STATE (11-1, 7-1 in the Big Ten):

  • Jim Tressel (240-79-2 career, 105-22 at Ohio State, 10th year)
  • Last Game: 37-7 win vs. Michigan

jim-tressel-screamingThe Buckeyes are entering their 8th BCS Bowl game, the most out of any team in the BCS’s history. They are 4-3 in BCS games, most recently coming off of a Rose Bowl win over Oregon just last year. A red flag for Ohio State this year has been their performance away from Ohio Stadium. Away from Columbus they were 3-1 with a 28-18 avergage score. Meanwhile at home they were 8-0 winning by a 45-11 average score. The Sugar Bowl in New Orleans is not literally a road game, but Arkansas is eating up tickets and will travel well, while Ohio State obviously doesn’t dominate outside of Columbus (and Minnesota when they won 52-10). The last time the Buckeyes were in the Sugar Bowl it was the 2008 NCG versus LSU that resulted in a 38-24 loss.

Sounds like bad news for the Buckeyes right? Except this is a new team, a new year (it will be 2011 when they play), and a new group of seniors who should be ready to prove themselves. This is a team that was about two quarters of bad football against Rose Bowl-bound Wisconsin from being in the National Championship Game. And they are playing a former Michigan man quarterbacking the other team. Sounds like Tressel’s dream motivational pre-game speech…or any good Ohio State head coach’s dream for that matter.

Now, let’s set all of the intangibles aside and look at the key team stats below from 2010 that may decide this big BCS football tilt.

OHIO STATE-ARKANSAS KEY STATS (National ranking):

Ohio State Turnover Margin: +1.17 (3rd overall)

Arkansas Turnover Margin: +0.17 (43rd overall)

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Ohio State 3rd Down Conversions: 71-155, 45.8% (23rd overall)

Arkansas 3rd Down Conversions: 63-149, 42.3% (46th overall)

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Ohio State Defense vs. 3rd Down: 46-153, 30.1% (5th overall)

Arkansas Defense vs. 3rd Down: 54-169, 32.0% (6th overall)

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Ohio State Overall Offense: 448.5 ypg (18th overall)

Arkansas Over Offense: 489.3 ypg (10th overall)

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Ohio State Overall Defense: 250.6 ypg (2nd overall)

Arkansas Over Defense: 339.8 ypg (34th overalll)

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Ohio State Penalty YPG: 47.1 (43rd overall)

Arkansas Penalty YPG: 65.3 ypg (109th overall)

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Ohio State 5th year Senior Starting Qbs: 0

Arkansas 5th year Senior Starting Qbs: 1

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OHIO STATE-ARKANSAS SUGAR BOWL PREDICTION:

I think Ohio State will sneak out the victory with more clutch defense and QB play in a close one. A big play or two on special teams may decide this one, and statistically Ohio State has the advantage in those areas (and Arkansas has THIS GUY coaching their special teams now). But then again, I would not suggest betting on a team with an enormous “0-9 SEC Bowl Game Monkey” on their back.

Ohio State 26 Arkansas 24.

KVB is 10-1 straight up and 5-6 against the spread on Ohio State this year.

About the Author

Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.