Oregon (10-2) vs. Ohio State (10-2)
Jan. 1, 4:30 p.m. (ABC)
Oregon take by Pac-10 blogger Ted Miller: On the surface, the Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi looks like a classic “irresistible force meets immovable object” matchup.
Oregon’s rushing attack ranks sixth in the country with 236 yards per game, while Ohio State’s run defense ranks fifth, surrendering a scant 83.4 yards per contest.
So who buckles first?
And will the Big Ten finally break through after losing six consecutive BCS bowl games?
Ohio State, which will be making its first Rose Bowl appearance since its 1997 win over Arizona State, is 7-0 all-time against the Ducks, but the teams haven’t met since 1987. Oregon last played in the Granddaddy in 1995, when it lost to Penn State.
Although the Ducks' spread-option against the Buckeyes' stout front seven will get top billing on the marquee, Oregon’s defense isn’t so bad -- the Ducks surrendered 329 yards per game, which ranks 32nd in the country -- and the Buckeyes run the ball well (199 yards per game).
It will be interesting to see how the Ducks' fast but undersized front-seven matches up with a Buckeyes line that struggled early but has improved during the latter portion of the season.
The quarterbacks, however, might end up deciding things. Oregon wanted hotshot recruit Terrelle Pryor badly in 2008 to run its spread-option, but Pryor chose Ohio State, and the Ducks ended up with a JC transfer named Jeremiah Masoli.
Masoli has become one of the nation’s best dual-threat quarterbacks, while Pryor has been inconsistent.
Will Masoli continue to roll or will Pryor break through?
Ohio State take by Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg: Ohio State has been the team of the decade in the Big Ten, dominating the conference and experiencing both highs and lows in postseason play. But throughout Jim Tressel's incredible run, the Buckeyes have never been to Pasadena. They make their first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1997 and hope to snap a three-game BCS bowl slide that has damaged their national reputation.
The Buckeyes once again played their best football in November, beating two top 15 opponents and arch-rival Michigan to lock up their fifth consecutive Big Ten championship. The defense has carried this team throughout the fall, posting three shutouts, nearly two more, and tying for third nationally in takeaways (33).
Still, Ohio State hasn't faced an offense that remotely resembles Oregon's in terms of firepower. The spread system has given the Buckeyes problems, and Ducks quarterback Jeremiah Masoli is a dangerous man at the controls. Ohio State must be extremely sound in its tackling, much like it was for most of the Fiesta Bowl against Texas, and keep Masoli and running backs LaMichael James and LeGarrette Blount from getting into the open field.
The Buckeyes likely can't match Oregon score-for-score, and Tressel's offense has endured obstacles this season. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor limited mistakes and spurred a potent rushing attack while operating in a scaled-down system down the stretch, but he'll likely be called upon to do more against Oregon.
The teams share two common opponents: Purdue and USC. Oregon dominated USC but struggled to beat Purdue, while Ohio State lost to both.
Will the Buckeyes' BCS fortunes change in a new setting? We'll find out Jan. 1.