Sugar Bowl Preview: Ohio State vs. Arkansas

2011 BCS Bowl Previews: BCS National Championship | Fiesta Bowl | Rose Bowl | Orange Bowl | Sugar Bowl

Date: Tuesday, January 4 2011
Time: 8:30PM ET
TV: ESPN

Why Watch: Because this may very well be Terrelle Pryor, Daniel Herron and DeVier Posey’s final game as Buckeyes after they were suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season after receiving improper benefits. Assuming there’s a NFL season next year, you have to wonder if all three will consider forgoing their senior years at Oho State to go pro. Either way, they’ll be in uniform for the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas and for now, that’s all that matters for college football fans (or the NCAA for that matter, which didn’t want ratings to suffer by suspending OSU’s best offensive players). The Buckeyes are 0-9 against SEC teams in bowl games and will face a Razorback squad making its first BCS Bowl appearance in school history. Fans that want to see a shootout may get one, as OSU averages 39.4 points per game and Arkansas averages 37.3 PPG. But the key may be OSU’s defense, which is allowing an average of 9.5 fewer points per contest than Arkansas.

Game FactsThe Buckeyes are 19-22 all-time in bowl games and finally broke a three-game bowl losing streak last year when they beat Oregon in the Rose Bowl. They haven’t played in the Sugar Bowl since 1998, when they defeated Texas A&M, 24-14. As previously mentioned, this will be Arkansas’ first appearance in a BCS bowl game and its first trip to the Sugar Bowl since 1969, when it lost 27-22 to Ole Miss. The Hogs are 12-22-3 all-time in bowl games, which includes a 20-17 overtime win over East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl last season.

Key Player: Knile Davis, Arkansas.
We all know about Ryan Mallett and the Arkansas passing game, but the balance that Davis adds is what makes the Razorbacks especially dangerous. Despite starting just seven of Arkansas’ 12 games, Davis managed to gain 1,183 yards and score 13 touchdowns. He’s also a First-Team All-SEC selection and if he can get things going on the ground, that will open things up for Mallett in the passing game.

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Rose Bowl Preview: TCU vs. Wisconsin

2011 BCS Bowl Previews: BCS National Championship | Fiesta Bowl | Rose Bowl | Orange Bowl | Sugar Bowl

Date: Saturday, January 1 2011
Time: 4:30PM ET
TV: ESPN

Why Watch: This will be the Badgers first trip to Pasadena in 11 seasons, while the Horned Frogs will become the first team from a non-AQ league in the BCS era to play in the Rose Bowl. Both teams scored 520 points this year, which was tied for the fourth most in the nation. This will be a classic strength vs. strength matchup, as TCU allowed an average of just 11.4 points, 126.3 passing yards and 215.4 total yards per game this year, which were all tops in the FBS. They also held opponents to 89.2 rushing yards per game, which was the third-fewest in the country. The Badgers, meanwhile, were tied for fourth with 43.3 points per game (the same as TCU) and employ a three-headed monster in running backs James White (1,061 yards), John Clay (952) and Montee Ball (881). Can TCU’s speedy defense matchup with Wisconsin’s big bodies on the offensive line?

Game Facts: Wisconsin has won its last three Rose Bowl appearances, while this will be TCU’s first-ever trip to Pasadena. The Badgers are 11-10 all-time in bowls and they’ll be making their ninth-straight bowl appearance. They beat Miami 20-14 in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando last season. The Frogs are 11-14-1 all-time in bowls, but are 7-4 in bowl games under current head coach Gary Patterson. After winning their previous four bowl games, TCU was largely dominated by Boise State at last year’s Fiesta Bowl, even though the final score was, 17-10.

Key Player: Wayne Daniels, TCU.
Want to know if TCU can play with the big boys? We’ll learn a lot by watching Daniels try and get around 6-foot-7 beast of a man and Outland Trophy winner Gabe Carimi. Daniels was an All-American himself, and led TCU with 6.5 sacks this season. If Carimi is able to do to him what he’s been able to do to everyone else he’s gone up against this season (which is destroy them), then TCU might be in for a long day because that likely means Wisconsin won’t have trouble moving the ball. Daniels doesn’t necessarily have to win this battle, but he has to at least hold his own if TCU is going to win.

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Fiesta Bowl Preview: Connecticut vs. Oklahoma

2011 BCS Bowl Previews: BCS National Championship | Fiesta Bowl | Rose Bowl | Orange Bowl | Sugar Bowl

Date: Saturday, January 1 2011
Time: 8:30PM ET
TV: ESPN

Why Watch: Because it’s Bob Stoops and Oklahoma – anything could happen. This is definitely the biggest mismatch of the five BCS bowl games, but Stoops has a five-game losing streak in BCS bowl games, which includes the Sooners’ shocking loss to Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. The Huskies are also sixth in the nation in kickoff returns and Oklahoma has allowed three kickoff returns for touchdowns this season, including one in each of their losses. UCONN running back Jordan Todman finished second in the nation in rushing, averaging 143 yards per game. Considering Oklahoma allowed 151 rushing yards per contest in the regular season, maybe the Huskies can play keep away from Landry Jones and the Sooner offense. Just when everyone thinks a blowout is inevitable, the opposite happens so don’t give up on this one.

Game Facts: This will be the Huskies’ fourth-straight bowl appearance under head coach Randy Edsall. They pulled off an upset against South Carolina in last season’s PapaJohns.com Bowl in which they held the Gamecocks to only a touchdown in a 20-7 win. That victory improved UCONN’s all-time bowl record to 3-1. The Sooners are 25-17-1 all-time in bowls, but have lost in their last three appearances in the Fiesta Bowl. They’re also 5-6 overall in bowls under Stoops, who has his team playing in a BCS Bowl for the eighth time in 12 seasons.

Key Player: Zach Frazer, Connecticut
If Connecticut has any chance at pulling off an upset, Frazer better play at another level. None of this “playing within himself” or “not making mistakes” nonsense – he’s going to have to play the best game of his life. Oklahoma is going to stack the box to take away Jordan Todman, which is exactly what a defense should do against a starting quarterback who has a 102.1 rating and has thrown for only five touchdowns all season. He needs to prove that Oklahoma even needs to use defensive backs in this game. Otherwise, we’re in for the snoozer that we all expect.

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BCS Bowl Forecast

RealClearSports.com lays out its first BCS bowl forecast of the year.

Texas LonghornsBCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: January 8, Dolphin Stadium, Miami
Matchup: Texas vs. Penn State (Odds: Texas 70%, Penn State 80%)
Outlook: The No. 1-ranked Longhorns will have their toughest remaining game this week at Texas Tech. A victory should send Texas smooth sailing into Key Biscayne. Penn State has an even easier slate, but it still needs Alabama to lose one game.

ROSE BOWL: January 1, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Matchup: USC vs. Ohio State (Odds: USC 90%, Ohio State 50%)
Outlook: The Tournament of Roses red coats don’t want this rematch – it would be the third time these two teams meet in 12 months – but it will have to really think outside of the box to avoid it. If Penn State somehow doesn’t make it to the BCS title game, fine. If USC somehow doesn’t win the Pac-10 outright, fine. But would the Rose Bowl dare to invite an SEC team to finally matchup with the Trojans in a bowl game? That would be nice, but that would also risk ticking off the Big Ten. Just remember, these guys invited Illinois last year. The track record isn’t good.

FIESTA BOWL: January 5, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Matchup: Alabama vs. Utah (Odds: Alabama 20%, Utah 60%)
Outlook: Say what? You ask. Well, this is going on the assumption that Oklahoma would be the obvious second choice from the Big 12 and the Fiesta Bowl doesn’t want a third consecutive appearance by the Sooners. The quandary here is that although the Fiesta would get the first pick if it loses Texas to the BCS title game, it pretty much has no way of avoid taking a non-BCS automatic qualifier, be it Utah, TCU, Boise State or even Tulsa.

SUGAR BOWL: January, 2, Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans
Matchup: Florida vs. Oklahoma (Odds: Florida 40%, Oklahoma 50%)
Outlook: If the Fiesta does pass on Oklahoma, then the Sooners land here to play the SEC champion. If Oklahoma is gone, then the Sugar will be forced to take the Big East champion, leaving the second SEC team for the Orange Bowl. If the SEC champion somehow ends up in the BCS title game, then the Sugar will take the Big 12’s second team.

Florida-Oklahoma would be awesome. And even though the Trojans blew them out earlier this season, I’d be interested in an OSU-USC rematch with Terrelle Pryor playing the entire game under center for the Buckeyes.

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