2010 Rose Bowl Odds and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 12/22/2009
2010 Rose Bowl
Oregon Ducks (-3.5, 50.5) vs Ohio State Buckeyes
Friday, January 1, 5 pm
Both of these teams are respected programs that are consistently good, so it's hard to believe how long it has been since either has played in the signature bowl of their conferences. Ohio State hasn't been there since 1997 when Joe Germaine led the Buckeyes to a 20-17 win over Jake Plummer, Pat Tillman and the second-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils. Since then every time they have won the Big Ten they have foregone the Rose Bowl to get humiliated in the National Championship Game.
Oregon last made the trip to Pasadena in 1995 when they were single-handedly beaten by future draft bust Ki-Jana Carter and Penn State. Incredibly, that was right before Mike Belotti took over the program, so the legendary coach never made it to The Granddaddy of Them All in his 14 seasons at the helm for Oregon.
The seasons for these two teams were reasonably similar. Both teams wound up at 10-2. Both had a loss that they wish they could have had back - Purdue and Stanford. Both had a very disappointing outcome in a heavily-hyped early season game - Oregon's debacle against Boise State, and Ohio State's frustrating loss to USC. That last loss is the most interesting - Oregon beat up on USC later in the season, but by that time Matt Barkley had definitely crashed back to earth so it's hard to know if it is a fair comparison. Oregon also beat Purdue this year, so if you buy into the importance of common opponents then Oregon has a clear edge.
These teams have only met once before. Oregon was favored by 22 when the teams met at Ohio State in 1987, but the Buckeyes pulled off the 24-14 upset.
With a game this historic and important to these conferences motivation certainly shouldn't be an issue for either team. Both teams will also be looking to finish this season strong and build momentum for what could be promising seasons for both squads next year. Both coaches are making the Rose Bowl debut, and adding a Rose Bowl win to your list of accomplishments is never a bad thing, so you know they will both be ready to play. You could argue that Oregon might be slightly more motivated because of their efforts to turn around the season after that terrible start, but Ohio State really needs a statement win against a Pac-10 rival - or any meaningful ranked opponent for that matter.
The biggest story here is the ground battle. Oregon has the sixth-ranked running game in the country, and it's even more dangerous now that LeGarrette Blount is back to create a deadly two-headed running back monster with LaMichael James. Add in the running skills of Jeremiah Masoli and you have a team that can run roughshod over opponents. It won't be easy against the Buckeyes, though, since they sport the fifth-ranked run defense in the country. More than any other matchup on the field, this one will define the tone of the game and the likely winner.
Terrelle Pryor will be the key for the Buckeyes, but his success is far from assured. He was heavily recruited by Oregon, so the Ducks wouldn't be upset about humiliating the recruit who spurned them. Oregon's pass defense is fine but not great - they sit just outside of the top quarter of the country. Pryor isn't coming into this game on a wave of motivation, though - he passed for a total of just 160 yards in his last two games, threw for 135 yards or less in six of 12 games, and saw his completion percentage drop by five percent from last year. The Buckeyes have shown that they can win when Pryor isn't at his best, but that may not be possible against an opponent as strong as Oregon.
Line Value and Rose Bowl Odds
The line opened in most places at 3.5, and has experienced reasonably balanced action at that level, with only slightly more of the bets going to the Ducks. It can be found in some places at both three and four, so it is possible that it will still move. The total opened at 51.5, but is showing slight downward pressure and is available a low as 50.5 as I write this. Ohio State was the better team against the spread, going a very solid 9-3 ATS compared to 7-5 for the Ducks. Against the spread teams have been almost exact opposites - Ohio State has gone 'under' eight times in 12 tries and pushed once, while Oregon went 'over' nine times.
Rose Bowl Predictions
I'm a Big Ten guy, but I have to back the Ducks here. They have a solid edge in all aspects of the offensive matchup, and Ohio State's strong defense - especially against the run - has not faced a team with as much versatility and as many dangerous weapons as Oregon has.
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