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January 1, 2010 Rose Bowl
Ohio State vs. Oregon

Ohio State and Oregon meet in the Rose Bowl, an unlikely match up considering OSU has not been in Pasadena since 1997 and Oregon has not been here since 1995. Ohio State comes into this game very happy to be here after losing their second game of the season in a repeat showdown against USC and then being upset on a blustery day at Purdue. Nevertheless, the Buckeyes rebounded and played it conservative down the stretch, knocking off highly ranked Penn State and Iowa in the process. Although the Buckeyes would certainly like another crack at USC after feeling robbed in September, it is probably best that OSU takes on a much better Oregon squad if the national reputation of losing big games is to be turned around. The Ducks tracked a similar path, losing their opener to Boise State and then losing a shocker at Stanford in the middle of conference play. Oregon finished with three straight wins including tight victories over Arizona and Oregon State. The story of the season in Columbus has been when will the training wheels come off Terrelle Pryor, while Oregon's best story has been the fall and recovery of RB LaGarrette Blount. It's a clash of the most traditional versus the wide open, a classic Rose Bowl with tons of pride and history on the line.

When Ohio State has the ball, it will be very interesting to see what Jim Tressel allows his offense to do in his first Rose Bowl. In bowl games, Tressel has traditionally been more liberal with his play calling in bowl games than in conference play, and this has generally led to good results offensively. With QB Terrelle Pryor, a whole new dimension comes into play and that is stopping the run on a broken play. This is easier said than done against the gliding Pryor. No matter how wide open OSU goes, the running game will be the key driving force of the offense with Pryor, Brandon Saine, and Daniel Herron all splitting carries. Pryor has been inconsistent in throwing the ball, but he has awesome talent in Dane Sanzenbacher and Devier Posey to throw to. Oregon's defense is led by LB Spencer Paysinger, who will likely be assigned to spying on Pryor's every movement. The Ducks defense is used to being on the field a long time, which bodes well for surviving the Buckeyes' ground it out style. Oregon has a lot of skill in the backfield, and if Pryor does not look off defenders, he will turn the ball over multiple times in this game. This would be devastating to the underdog Buckeyes.

When the Ducks take the ball, the premier battle of the day will take the field as Oregon's high octane offense battles OSU's Silver Bullet shutdown defense. Oregon has a similar running setup as Ohio State actually, although Jeremiah Masoli has been a more prolific passer than a runner this season. Furthermore, Oregon has one stud running back LaMichael James, although senior RB Blount should be back for some final carries as well. James brings a lot of speed that the Buckeyes will have to account for, but the real key is how well Masoli reads defenses. In a similar offense, Penn State's veteran QB Daryll Clark was harassed and completely contained by OSU, but Masoli should find a bit more running room than Clark. The Ducks have a good offensive line, but that could be one area where the Buckeyes outgun the Ducks. Look for safety Kurt Coleman to try and make a couple of big plays to force turnovers whenever Oregon passes the ball, but Oregon is so efficient that OSU's defense might not have many chances.

In special teams, the Ducks again hold the edge but not for any disparity in talent. Tressel makes a living off field position, and punter Jon Thoma will be looking to finish his career in style. Meanwhile, the return game is questionable without suspended Ray Small and the kicking game could be iffy with backup Devin Barclay. Meanwhile, Oregon will rely on kicker Morgan Flint, who was very accurate hitting on 15/17 field goals this season. If the game turns into a field position game, it might actually favor Oregon, which is exactly the opposite of what you would expect. As for coaching, it does not get much better than Jim Tressel. Chip Kelly is also trying to make a name of himself, and knocking USC off their BCS perch is a great way to start building a legacy. A Rose Bowl win for either in their first try will add to their existing or budding legend. Tressel has just had more experience and knows how to play the game on his terms, so expect OSU to have a lsight edge in gameplan.

Looking at the game on paper, all the factors seem to favor the Ducks. Ohio State has struggled recently in big games, and that's one intangible that favors the Buckeyes because streaks are meant to be broken. Remember that OSU played much tougher than expected against LSU two years ago and had Texas on the ropes last season. Gameplan counts for a lot, and Masoli and Pryor will both likely break out some big plays. Although Pryor is likely the better athlete, he is more prone to mistakes, which will decide this game. Oregon wins by 10 with a +2 turnover ratio.

Sugar Bowl
Florida vs. Cincinnati

Down in the Bayou, a meeting of teams with the most unlikely coaching circumstances will happen on the biggest stage. Florida was hoping to send out Tim Tebow with a shot at a third national championship in four seasons, but history proves that it's obscenely hard to repeat as national champions. While the Gators are certainly disappointed to end up in the Big Easy, the past five days have shocked the nation as Urban Meyer stepped down as coach for health reasons and then retracted his resignation just one day later. It appears that the terms of his contract will keep him around, but Meyer appears to be a birght star who will beat everyone based on his effort but will not be able to continue forever like many coaches who don't quite kill themselves for success. Meanwhile, Cincinnati has their own weird situation as Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame and an interim coach will only have one game at the helm before Butch Davis, who was hired away from Central Michigan, will take over the Bearcats. So while the Bearcats are kind of stuck in purgatory, each team comes in with big question marks at the coaching position and even bigger questions about the future.

When Florida has the ball, the Gators will be all about one man, obviously that being Tim Tebow. While it is true that Tebow did not have the awesome numbers he's had in the past, there's no denying he was the best football player in college football this decade and his management of the Gators was a thing to behold in 2009. Tebow threw for over 2400 yards and ran for another 860, while piling up 18 touchdowns in the air and 13 on the ground. Tebow can slice and dice a defensive backfield with WR Riley Cooper and TE Aaron Hernandez. Cincinnati's defense was gashed quite a bit late in the year, as Illinois and Pittsburgh showed some serious flaws in the Bearcats defensive front. Florida should be able to establish the run and then open up the pass against a mediocre Bearcats defense. One thing that really broke games open for UC was turnovers, but against such an intelligent game manager such as Tebow, those will be hard to come by. The Gators will put up points again in this one.

When the Bearcats take the ball, it will be a legitimate question who gets more snaps at quarterback. Tony Pike certainly had Heisman-quality numbers, but he missed a five week stretch due to injury and in stepped the future, Zach Collaros. Collaros was even better statistically than Pike, which is incredible. Furthermore, Collaros brings a little run threat to the game while Pike is a traditional pocket passer more in the mold of Ben Roethlisberger. Cincinnati does not run the ball all that well, but look for reverses and trick plays to get WR Mardy Gilyard as many touches as possible. Gilyard will be the best athlete on the field and the Gators defense need to key in on him to slow the Bearcats. However, UC will not be stopped if Gilyard is contained, as there are plenty of other threats led by WR Armon Binns and TE Ben Guidugli. The Gators have a defense that was absolutely dominant prior to the game against Alabama, but the Crimson Tide really put together a special performance in that game. Florida may indeed have another game where the defensive backfield gets a little burned and gives up a couple easy touchdowns, but the mismatch on the other side of the ball could more than make up for this.

In special teams, again Mardy Gilyard is the star of the show. Gilyard returned a kickoff for touchdown after Pittsburgh took a 21 point lead in their finale, and this play more than anything else turned the tide and allowed the Bearcats to finish undefeated. Each kicker has had inconsistent moments this season, but Florida may be able to steal some field position with their punter Chas Henry. In coaching, no offense to Jeff Quinn, but Urban Meyer is the best coach in college football. Yes he's burnt out, yes he brought some questions to the sidelines a week ago, but hands down the man is the best in the business. Quinn will be hard pressed to keep up with the prowess on the other side of the field when Meyer has downed Jim Tressel and Bob Stoops easily in previous bowls.

With all the drama between the end of the season and the game, nobody really knows what the intangibles say about this game. One could argue the Bearcats will be looking to validate their dream season by finishing undefeated, and also validate the Big East in the process. Players like Pike and Gilyard have made no bones about proving Brian Kelly wrong by doing ther best to win this game without him. Meanwhile, will Florida show up motivated at all despite the high quality opponent? There's no doubt the Gators will consider this season a disappointment, and Tebow was not able to carry an unmotivated Gators team two years ago in a Capital One bowl loss to Michigan. Nevertheless, one cannot ignore the heavy talent disparity and the fact that Cincinnati has nothing for a defense compared to the Gators. While the intangibles likely favor the undefeated Bearcats, that will not be enough in this game. The Gators roll offensively to a massive output and carry Tebow and Meyer off the field as big winners. UF by 24.

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