Dec. 31, 2009
Series: Ohio State leads 7-0 • Last Meeting: Sept. 19, 1987: Ohio State 24, Oregon 14
Ohio State will play in its fifth straight BCS contest when the Buckeyes return to the Rose Bowl Game for first time since 1997. OSU will make its 14th appearance in Pasadena, Calif., the second-highest number of Rose Bowl Game trips among all Big Ten teams behind only Michigan (20). Ohio State is the nation’s only program to qualify for eight BCS games in the 12-year history of the system, as Oklahoma and
The Big Ten has produced a 29-33 record in the Rose Bowl Game including a mark of 29-32 against the Pac-10. The Buckeyes have won six Rose Bowl Games, including a triumph over Arizona State in their most recent trip.
Oregon will be appearing in its fifth Rose Bowl Game and first since Jan. 1, 1995 when it lost to Penn State. The Ducks have a 1-3 record in the Rose Bowl Game with their lone win coming in 1917 with a 14-0 shutout over Pennsylvania. Oregon, which is 0-2 against the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl, is making its second trip to a BCS bowl game since the series’ inception in 1999. The Ducks first appearance was at the 2002 Fiesta Bowl, when they defeated Colorado, 38-16. The Ducks would have gone to the Rose Bowl that season, but it was the host game for the BCS Championship game.
This season Ohio State has won with defense, but do not discount the Buckeyes’ offense, which averaged 29.2 points per game and scored 30 or more on seven occasions. OSU seemed to have an unbalanced offensive attack this year and the numbers help support that. The rushing offense ranked third in the league with 198.9 yards per game while the passing attack was 11th with just 165.9 yards each time out. Dual-threat quarterback Terrelle Pryor managed 1,825 yards and 16 touchdowns passing and 707 yards and seven scores on the ground this season. His 128.0 passer rating ranked ninth in the Big Ten as he recorded the league’s lowest completion percentage (55.8) and tossed the fourth-most interceptions (10). Pryor, Brandon Saine, Boom Herron, and Jordan Hall combined for 2,207 yards on the ground and 19 rushing touchdowns. In fact Herron (62.0), Pryor (58.9) and Saine (57.8) ranked seventh through ninth, respectively, in Big Ten rushing yards per game. DeVier Posey led all OSU wideouts with 52 receptions, 727 yards and seven touchdowns on the year. His 60.6 receiving yards per game were 10th in the conference. Dane Sanzenbacher hauled in 27 receptions for 506 yards and six touchdowns during the regular season.
The Oregon defense is allowing 23.6 points, 126.7 rushing, 202.8 passing and 329.4 total yards per game – the latter of which ranked third in the Pac-10. During a three-game stretch in September and October, the Ducks held three consecutive opponents – Cal, Washington State and UCLA – to less than 10 points for the first time since 1980. The Ducks enter with a plus-3 turnover margin and their 24 takeaways were the second-highest total in their conference this season. Oregon recovered 11 fumbles and picked off 13 passes, while contributing pressure behind the line with 32 sacks. Junior Kenny Rowe is the team’s sack leader with 8.5 on the season, rating third-best in the conference. Rowe also had 11.0 tackles for loss on the year, while senior DE Will Tukuafu had 6.5 in 2009 and has 32.5 in his three-year career. A pair of underclassmen led the Ducks in tackles as freshman John Boyett (6.5) and sophomore Javes Lewis (6.4) ranked 10th and 11th, respectively, among Pac-10 defenders.
The Ducks also made statements in the red zone this season, leading the Pac-10 by allowing opponent scoring just 77.3 (33-of-44, 26 TDs) percent of the time. By contrast, Ohio State ranked 10th in the Big Ten with just a 76.2 success rate, finding the end zone 23 times and the scoreboard on 32-of-42 occasions.
Much has been said about the Ohio State defense, but it will surely have to come prepared and ready for a potent Oregon offense that loves to run the football. The Ducks were sixth in the nation with 236.1 rushing yards per game and seventh in scoring offense with 37.7 points each time out. Freshman running back LaMichael James has been part game-changer, part savior this season. Oregon was forced to deal early on with the 10-game suspension of talented running back LeGarette Blount, but James was there to step up. He was tabbed the Pac-10 Offensive Freshman of the Year after posting an average of 123.0 rushing yards per game, which was eighth-best in the country. Additionally, he ranked seventh in the country and second in the Pac-10 with 1,476 yards rushing. The rushing attack certainly doesn’t stop with James. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who threw for 187.8 yards per game, rushed for another 60 each time out and has found the end zone on the ground in all but three of his 11 appearances this season. He has 22 career TDs in 23 games as a Duck and is Oregon’s all-time scoring leader at the quarterback position with 132 points. Passing wise, Masoli posted a 133.7 rating that ranked third in the Pac-10 and threw 15 touchdowns to just five interceptions. His primary targets include Jeff Maehl (52 rec., 686 yds, 6 TDs), Ed Dickson (42 rec., 551 yds, 6 TDs), D.J. Davis (22 rec., 230 yds, 2 TDs), and Jamere Holland (13 rec., 199 yds, 2 TDs). To add to the mix, Blount has been reinstated by head coach Chip Kelly and will make the tip to Pasadena having recorded 1,002 yards and 17 TDs last year as a junior.
The Buckeyes’ defensive unit was one of just five in FBS play to not allow a single 100-yard individual rushing performance this year. OSU allowed only 12.2 points and 262.5 total yards per game, 83.4 of those coming on the ground, which ranked fifth in the country. The Buckeyes also proved tough against the pass, allowing 179.1 passing yards per game, which was second in the Big Ten. OSU boasts a league-high 23 interceptions on the season and enter the Rose Bowl Game with an impressive plus-16 turnover margin. Kurt Coleman had five of those picks, while Ross Homan hauled in four. Homan also led the Buckeyes with 8.0 tackles per game – eighth-best in the conference – and teammate Brian Rolle was responsible for 7.6 stops per outing.