Rose Bowl Preview and Pick: Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Oregon Ducks – Point Spread

Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2 SU, 9-3 ATS) vs. Oregon Ducks (10-2 SU, 7-5
ATS), 5:00 p.m. EST, Friday, January 1, 2010, Rose Bowl, Pasadena,
Calif., TV: ABC

by Badger of

Point Spread: Ohio State +3.5/Oregon -3.5
Over/Under: 50.5

As former college football announcer Keith Jackson would say, weve got a dandy of a game scheduled for the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on New Years Day, when the 10-2 Ohio State Buckeyes of the Big 10 Conference travel to take on the 10-2 Oregon Ducks of the PAC 10 Conference.

The only problem is that neither team really wants to be in Pasadena
on New Years Day, theyd rather be playing a few days later in the
BCS Championship game on January 7th.

The Buckeyes enter the Rose Bowl on a five-game winning streak,
including huge wins over Penn State (24-7) and Iowa (27-24) before
they won their rivalry game over the Michigan Wolverines to finish
the season, 21-10.

If not for one big turd of a game back on October 17, a 26-18 loss to Purdue, and despite a last-second loss to USC early in the season,
the Buckeyes would have a claim to being in the big game in Pasadena
a few days later.

Ironically, the Ducks season is similar to the Buckeyes.

Oregon also enters the Bowl season with a modest three-game winning streak, including a big, 37-33, victory over rival Oregon State in
the Civil War game to earn the rights to represent the PAC 10 in
the Rose Bowl.

Just like OSU, the Ducks also lost a high-profile game early in the season, an 18-9 loss at Boise State, but rebounded nicely to put
themselves in position for an outside chance at the BCS title before
dropping a dud against Stanford, 51-45, in early November.

Now these two will have to settle for a Rose Bowl victory as a
consolation prize when they tussle on New Years in the Granddaddy of
them All

The early line out of Las Vegas opened with Oregon as 3.5-point favorites, and surprisingly the point spread has had little or zero
line movement all month. In fact, with the exception of a few
offshore sportsbooks that list the point spread at Oregon minus -4,
just about every book has yet to move the number at all.

The over/under total opened at 51.5 back in early December, but it
dropped early and quickly and is now listed at 51 (at all of the Las
Vegas books) or even 50.5 at the rest of the sportsbooks on the Web.
Although there is still one offshore book, SportsInteraction,
that still lists the total at 51.5.

Fans of college football should be excited about this game, because it
will feature two of the more exciting playmakers at quarterback in the entire
NCAA in Oregons Jeremiah Masoli and Ohio States Terrelle

Masoli has thrown for over 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns, but his 659
yards rushing and 12 rushing touchdowns that make the Ducks so
dangerous on offense. When teamed up with running back LaMichael
(1,480 yds., 14 TD), Masoli and the Ducks are the NCAAs 6th-
best running attack at 236.1 yards per game and a potent scoring
machine averaging over 37 points per game (37.7 ppg 7th).

Pryor is also a duel threat quarterback, but he runs the ball (team-
leading 708 yards, 7 TD) a little better then he throws it (1,821
yds., 16 TD/10 INT). Because of Pryors drawbacks at throwing, the
Buckeyes are a little more one-dimensional (19th in rushing 106th
in passing) in their attack and a little less explosive on the
scoreboard (29.2 ppg 48th).

But while both offenses are similar in style and substance, the biggest difference between these two teams is on defense.

Ohio State can boast the countrys 5th-ranked defense overall (262.5
ypg), the 4th-ranked defense against the run (83.4 ypg) and 5th in
scoring allowing just 12.2 points per game. The Buckeyes worst outing
as a defense this season came against Purdue, when they allowed 361
total yards and gave up 24 first downs.

Oregons defense is not nearly as strong as its offense, ranked 33rd
overall allowing 329.4 yards per game and 23.6 points per game. For
the Ducks to be successful against the Buckeyes theyll have to play
more like they did against USC (327 yards allowed, 4-for-14 on 3rd
down) then they did against Stanford (allowed 505 total yards and 51

These teams met once before, back in 1987, when the Buckeyes beat the Ducks at the Horseshoe, 24-14. That was a long time ago though, back
when the Oregon program was a shell of what it is now, which explains
why the Ducks were 22-point underdogs back then.

If youre looking for betting trends to sway your opinion, there are
a few interesting items to note for this game.

Ohio State is 4-1 ATS in their last five bowl games as the underdog,
5-2 ATS in their last seven bowl games overall, and 6-1-1 ATS in
their last eight games against the PAC-10.

Oregon is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 bowl games.

The under might be a worthy bet as well, since the under is 8-2-1 in the Buckeyes last 11 games overall, 5-1 in the last six games versus
the PAC-10 and 5-0 in games as an underdog. The under is also 5-2 in
the Ducks last seven bowl games, and 13-6-1 in the Ducks last 20
games on grass.

Badgers Pick: I dont care what the trends say, this game is bound to go over. Ohio State has not seen an offense even close to the
Ducks in the Big 10, and they cant come close to simulating the
attack on the scout team in practice either. Defense in the PAC-10 is
optional too, so the Buckeyes should score too. Take the over of 50.5.