Fiesta Bowl Preview

Jan. 3, 2009

(10-2, 7-1 Big Ten)
Roster | Stats

OHIO STATE vs. Texas
Monday, January 5, 2009
Univ. of Phoenix Stadium - Glendale, Ariz.
8 p.m. ET - FOX

Inside the Series:
Tied, 1-1 | Last Meeting: 2006, Ohio State, 24-7

(11-1, 7-1 Big 12)
Roster | Stats

Pts./ Game
Pts. Allowed/ Game
Time of Possession
Yds Allowed/ Game

Yds/ Game
Yds Allowed/ Game
Completion %


Ohio State (10-2, 7-1) will play in its fourth straight BCS contest when the Buckeyes return to the Fiesta Bowl for the fourth time in seven years. OSU has now qualified for seven BCS games in the 11-year history of the system, which is tied with USC and Oklahoma for the lead among all programs. Ohio State heads to Arizona for postseason play for the fifth time in the last seven seasons, including Fiesta Bowl berths in 2003, 2004 and 2006 and a spot in the BCS Championship game, held in Glendale in 2007. The Buckeyes will face the Big 12's Texas (11-1, 7-1 Big 12) in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl which will be played on Monday, Jan. 5, at 8 p.m. ET in Glendale, Ariz. The four-time defending Big Ten Champions are making their ninth consecutive bowl excursion, including eight straight under head coach Jim Tressel. The Buckeyes mentor has won four of his last six bowl games overall, including BCS triumphs in 2003, 2004 and 2006. Ohio State will be playing in its 40th bowl, which leads all Big Ten programs, and holds an 18-21 record in postseason play. Big Ten teams have produced a 6-1 mark in the Fiesta Bowl, including a record of 4-1 for the Buckeyes.

This will be Texas' school-record 11th consecutive bowl appearance and its third BCS bowl in the last five years after playing in the Rose Bowl following the 2004 and 2005 seasons. The Longhorns will be making their second appearance in the Fiesta Bowl after falling to Penn State 38-15 in the 1997 Fiesta Bowl.  UT has won six of its last seven bowl games and carries a 7-3 record in bowl contests under Mack Brown. In the 11 years prior to Brown's arrival, Texas went to five bowls and was 2-3.  And after a 52-34 victory over No. 12 Arizona State in the 2007 Holiday Bowl, Texas earned its fourth-straight bowl victory for the first time in school history.

This will mark just the third time that Texas and Ohio State will square off with all three matchups coming in the last four years. Texas opened the series with a 25-22 victory in Columbus en route to the 2005 National Championship, but the Buckeyes evened the series after a 24-7 win in Austin in 2006, which helped lead OSU to an undefeated regular season and an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game.  Texas and Ohio State have recorded 831 and 807 all-time wins, which rank second and fifth in NCAA history.  The two squads have played in a combined total of 86 bowl games, claimed 11 National Championships and registered 60 conference crowns. Over the last five seasons, UT and OSU have a combined record of 106-19 (.785).

The Ohio State-Texas battle presents an intriguing contest between a pair of talented quarterbacks and two stingy defenses that have each kept their opponents off the scoreboard this season.  The Buckeyes are led under center by Big Ten Freshman of the Year Terrelle Pryor.  After taking over as starter following the loss to top-ranked USC, Pryor has guided OSU to an 8-1 mark with the lone loss coming to Rose Bowl-bound Penn State.  In those nine games, Pryor threw for nearly 1,200 yards and completed 62 percent of his passes.  He also proved he can be quite consistent with the football, posting 12 TDs to only four interceptions during that span and finishing the season atop the Big Ten pass efficiency charts with a 152.1 rating.  Pryor averages 103.8 passing yards per game, but adds nearly 50 more yards per contest when he takes off running the ball.  Speaking of running the ball, that is something that comes natural to Chris “Beanie” Wells.  After battling a foot injury earlier this season, Wells responded by storming up the conference rushing charts to rank third overall with 121.2 yards per game.  The Buckeyes’ 339.7 yards of total offense only ranked ninth in the conference, but OSU was third overall in rushing with 191.6 yards on the ground.  Texas will look to contain Wells and keep Pryor scrambling as the Longhorns rate first in the nation with 3.7 sacks per game.  Defensive end Brian Orakpo tied for 13th in the nation with 10.0 sacks on the year, while teammates Sergio Kindle (9.5) and Roy Miller (4.5) also liked to get in on the action behind the line.  The Longhorns have been tough in the trenches this season, allowing just 73.6 yards on the ground each game – a mark that is second-best in the country.  But as good as the rush defense was, Texas struggled mightily defending the pass in the aerial-attack league known as the Big 12.  The Longhorns ranked 109th in the nation with 266.3 passing yards allowed each time out.  Junior linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy leads the squad with 8.0 tackles per game.

Texas will also bring a top quarterback to the battle as Colt McCoy turned in one of the best regular seasons in school history.  The Heisman Trophy finalist threw for school records in yards (3,445) and TDs (32), as well a mind-boggling 77.6 percent completion rate that set an NCAA record.  Amid all the passing success, McCoy also managed to score 10 TDs on the ground and finish atop the team rushing chart with 576 yards.  Texas has also used three others in the rushing game, including Vondrell McGee (31.3), Cody Johnson (28.0) and Chris Ogbonnaya (27.6).  When McCoy airs it out, he looks for Jordan Shipley (81.8) and Quan Cosby (79.3), who combined for 19 touchdowns this season.  While the Longhorns boast the nation’s fifth-highest scoring offense (43.92) and 11th-best passing offense (299.5), the Buckeyes are only allowing 13.1 points per game, which ranks seventh, and 164.3 yards in the air, which rates sixth in the country.  OSU is also eighth in total defense (279.3) and boasts a plus-15 turnover margin that led the Big Ten and ranks sixth nationally.  Senior linebackers James Laurinaitis (10.1) and Marcus Freeman (6.3) are the Buckeyes’ leading tacklers, while Laurinaitis’ mark rates second in the conference and 13th in the country.  Cornerbacks Malcolm Jenkins (3 INT) and Kurt Coleman (4 INT) will play key roles in trying to shut down Texas’ passing game.