BCS Dream Matchup - Texas vs. Ohio State
NCAA College Football Futures Odds
To Win BCS National Title
Southern Cal +650
OHIO STATE +1000
Louisiana State +1800
Notre Dame +2000
Florida State +2200
Penn State +2500
Texas was made last year. They beat Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout, and tied with them for the Big 12 South title, yet did not get the opportunity to play in the Big 12 championship game, watching as the Sooners beat Missouri and moved on to the BCS title game. I guess one of the themes is revenge of a sort, and making their way to the national title in the process.
Ohio State lost a lot of standouts to the NFL draft, but that is nothing new for coach Jim Tressel's program. The man at the trigger of their offense, Terrelle Pryor, is back for his sophomore season, and so the Buckeyes are once again a favorite in the Big Ten and one of BetUS' top five in the national title odds.
What if both these teams got through their respective conferences in an impressive enough fashion that they qualified to face each other on January 7 in Pasadena with the BCS championship on the line?
If this kind of fortune were to come to Texas, it would probably mean they were able to beat Oklahoma, although from last year's experience we know there are no guarantees. They also have to visit Oklahoma State, which has a loaded offense, and Missouri, which is still capable offensively despite the loss of people like Chase Daniel, Chase Coffman and Jeremy Maclin. Then they would have to win the Big 12 title game, against either Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, or whoever else may be there. All this should be enough to bag one of the top two spots in the BCS rankings.
How would they do that? Well, we'd have to assume Texas came up big in the secondary, and that in turn means they would have more than the six interceptions they had in 2008. When you play in a conference like they do, with so many great QB's, that is a must if you want to stay at a high level; you have to take the ball away. It would be a foregone conclusion that the Longhorns would somehow fill the pass rushing void left by Brian Orakpo, who went off to the first round of the NFL Draft. Hypothetically, that could mean Sergio Kindle, who's a little bit of a flake off the field, got himself together enough that he became a major pass rushing force, and that furthermore, Alex Okafor, who has come to Austin with a lot of hype, turned out to be a big-time freshman at defensive end. There is no question that Texas will have figured out a way to stop the run better as well.
You'd have to expect that Colt McCoy, who came into the season as a Heisman contender (+275 in the BetUS odds, in fact) at least approached his 2008 numbers (34 TD's, 76.7% completions) and maintained his Heisman candidacy. and that he didn't have to be the leading rusher on his team, but got help either from the "committee" approach, or from an emerging guy like Aaron Brown. This may be a lot to ask for, but there are four starters coming back on the offensive line, including one of the best left tackles in the country in Adam Ulatoski and high hopes for Texas entering the season.
Ohio State's task is to beat USC when they host the Trojans at Columbus and go through the Big Ten undefeated, in a schedule that includes visits to Penn State and Michigan. The Buckeyes would have to find solutions at the linebacker position, as they lost studs in Marcus Freeman and James Laurinaitis. The defensive line, which brought back three veterans, would have to be as good as advertised. These guys have been through this drill before - look how many players from the defensive unit they have lost to the NFL in the last few years.
Terelle Pryor (+800 in the BetUS Heisman odds), who came to Columbus as one of the most highly-touted athletes in recent memory, would have to be every bit as good as the Buckeyes hoped, creating confusion with different formations that show off his versatility. However, one thing you would have to assume is that he has improved himself as a passer to the point where the opponent could not overplay the run. That would make him an awesome force, and someone mentioned in the Heisman conversation. If Ohio State got this far, it means that they have found some people who could sufficiently replace Chris Wells, who was drafted by Arizona in the first round (maybe freshman Jamaal Berry helps in this area), and that receivers could step up (Dane Sanzenbacker is leading returnee, with 21 catches last year).
Has Texas seen anyone quite like Pryor? The closest thing would be Robert Griffin of Baylor, who they play near the tail end of the year. No matter how good Pryor is, Kindle would be a pain in the neck for him. We would certainly know that Texas is a heck of a team if it got through all the minefields in front of them. We know that Ohio State can get through the Big Ten schedule without a scratch, or with enough substance that they wind up in the title game, and still get outclassed once they get there. Although you can't count out a guy like Tressel, I would expect that Texas could win this matchup by double digits, and perhaps two touchdowns.
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