2008 Fiesta Bowl Preview and Pick – Texas Longhorns vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

No. 3 Texas Longhorns (11-1) -9.5, 53.5 O/U vs. No. 10 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2) Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, A.Z., Jan. 5th, 8:15PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com

The Texas Longhorns may feel like they were unfairly left out of the Big 12 Championship and the National Title game due to the voters placing Oklahoma ahead of the despite their 45-35 victory over the Sooners. Instead, the Longhorns will get the no. 10 team in the nation the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The game will be an exciting match-up featuring two tops teams from football powerhouse conferences showcasing the Big 10 and the Big 12. These pair of top ten teams will go to war with a high power Texas offense and a very strong Ohio State defense, but the question will be which side of the ball will prevail?

The Longhorns only loss this season come in the way of a Texas Tech last second pass that lifted the Red Raiders over Texas 39-33. Beyond that game, Texas has been perfect and as strong as anyone in the country. Texas held the 2nd position in the BCS Standings for nearly the final month of the regular season, but the voters would give Oklahoma the edge in the week that mattered most and send the Sooners to the Big 12 Championship. The change in the BCS Standings kept quite possibly one of the best two teams in the country out of the National Championship and proved once again while the BCS System will soon be a thing of the past. Now the Longhorns must finish the season to really prove that they belonged in a title game. Texas will look for Heisman finalist Colt McCoy to lead the Longhorns to victory to win their 5th straight bowl game in 5 years.


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Ohio State had National Championship hopes for entering the season and why not they have been to the Championship Game the previous two years despite losing both games. The Buckeyes this season have had a few offensive struggles compared to recent years. However, the Buckeyes sport one of the top defenses in all of college football. The Buckeye defense ranks 9th overall holding teams to 279 yards of total offense per game and 7th in scoring defense holding teams to only 13 points per game. Ohio State will face a task no team in the country has been able to accomplish in slowing down a very dangerous Texas offense. The Longhorns have not scored under 28 points this season, but the Buckeyes defense hope to change that stat and show the nation they can contain the Longhorn offensive attack.

Online sportsbooks have the betting line favoring the no. 3 Texas Longhorns by 9.5 points while some betting lines already have the game in double digits as 10 point favorites. The over/under for the contest is set at 53.5 and early action shows the betting public is favoring the over at this point in time. ML numbers have Texas listed as the -380 favorites and Ohio State as +310 underdogs.

Ohio State will need to dominate the ground game in this match-up and keep the Longhorn offense off the field. The Buckeyes will not win a shootout type game with Texas, but if they can establish the rushing attack they could have a legitimate chance to win the game. Chris Beanie Wells is one of the better backs in America. On the season, Wells has racked up 1091 yards and 8 touchdowns despite missing nearly the entire month of September due to an ankle injury. Wells and freshmen QB Terrelle Pryor will look to beat the Longhorns on the ground while trying to control the clock. The Buckeyes success in this game will rely heavily on their ability to run the football. The Longhorns defense ranks 2nd in America in terms of rush defense, however those numbers could be a disguise considering the pass happy league that is the Big 12. Who will win the battle between the Ohio State rushing offense and the Texas rush defense?

The Longhorns sport the 9th ranked offense in America averaging 475 yards per game of total offense. Texas also ranks 6th in the country in scoring offense averaging an amazing 46 points per game. A major factor behind the Longhorns success this season rest in the hands of junior quarterback Colt McCoy. McCoy has completed an unbelievable 77.6% of his passes this season that ranks 1st among quarterbacks in college football. On the season, McCoy has thrown for 3,445 yards and 32 touchdowns. Wide receivers Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby have accounted for 19 touchdowns this season for the Longhorns offense and each receiver is less than 50 yards away from 1,000 yard seasons. Texas will look to keep the offense rolling and withstand the test from the Ohio State defense and win their 3rd BCS game in 5 years.

Betting Trends
The Longhorns are 10-3 ATS in their last 13 games while going 12-1 SU in those 13 games. Texas has only had one game this season under the 50 point total, but has reached the under total in 3 of their last 5 games with 1 push. Ohio State is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games and has reached the over total in 4 of their last 5 games. However, the Buckeyes lost both games ATS this season when they were the underdogs.

Jays Pick - Ohio State is too one dimensional to bring down the Texas offense. The Longhorns will load the middle of the field and dare the Buckeyes to throw the ball which the will have no success. Take Texas -9.5 or -10.