Big Ten: Roy Miller
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
|AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin|
|Colt McCoy threw for 414 yards and the winning touchdown with 16 seconds to play Monday night against Ohio State.|
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Roy Miller sounded like an Ohio State infomercial.
Minutes after No. 3 Texas posted a dramatic Fiesta Bowl win, Miller began talking up the team his Longhorns had just beaten.
"Great team, great players, Terrelle Pryor, [Chris "Beanie" Wells] is healthy," said Miller, the Longhorns senior nose tackle who was named Defensive Player of the Game. "You've got award winners on that side. You've got future Heisman candidates, you've got a running back that'll probably be the top pick in the draft, an offensive line as big as any, a defense that's played as well as any defense.
"When you look at those things and you look that this team had an opportunity to scout us for a month and a half, I really feel like we deserve that top spot."
It will be a tough sell, but the Longhorns began campaigning for the No. 1 ranking immediately after their 24-21 win. Head coach Mack Brown on the victory podium said he planned to vote Texas at No. 1 regardless of what happens in the BCS title game Thursday night.
But there's a force working against Texas, the same force that worked in favor of Oklahoma and Florida.
The Longhorns won by only three points Monday. They showed tremendous fortitude, made key plays and rallied past an Ohio State team that finally began to play to its potential. Yet a 3-point win against the runner-up from the beleaguered Big Ten Conference won't convince many that Texas should be at the top. Neither will an offense that produced well below its season averages.
"Style points, I don't care about scoring 80 points and them scoring seven," Longhorns defensive end Brian Orakpo said. "If it's a battle between two great teams, it makes football even more fun to play. It's very unfortunate because nowadays it's all style points and who can keep their starters in the longest and keep running up the score.
"Style points shouldn't matter."
Orakpo makes an excellent point, but one that likely will fall on deaf ears when the final polls come out. Texas entered the game as a 9-point favorite, and after impressive BCS wins by both USC and Utah, the Longhorns likely needed to trounce Ohio State to open the door for a split national title.
Though Texas certainly has the best case of any team not spending the week in Miami, the Longhorns were seconds away from a loss. USC thumped a Penn State team that beat Ohio State on Oct. 25, and Utah also posted a two-touchdown victory.
"Things weren't easy tonight," Brown said.
"You can throw [margin of victory] out the window," Orakpo said.
Unfortunately for Orakpo, the voters don't.
Texas' best argument for the No. 1 spot in the polls had nothing to do with what happened at University of Phoenix Stadium.
"It's called the Red River Shootout, and 45-35 was that final score," Miller said, referring to Texas' win against Oklahoma on Oct. 11. "We have an opportunity to win the votes over, hopefully, and possibly get a national championship with the votes."
Miller spoke last week about losing confidence in the voters toward the end of the regular season, as Oklahoma moved past Texas, thanks in large part to style points. History is not on the Longhorns' side.
But after Monday's win, Miller is beginning to feel more hopeful.
"I'm optimistic," he said. "I'm hoping that since our team played so strong and showed so much heart, I'm hoping those things can come through transparent, everybody can see 'em. Especially if Oklahoma wins [Thursday night]. We beat Oklahoma. We felt like we should have been in Florida. We felt like we should have had that opportunity.
"If they beat Florida, we feel we should be No. 1."
Miller doesn't plan to sit around and fret over the final polls. But he hopes the voters will do the right thing.
"Anything can happen," he said. "We know it, and we just hope we can win a couple votes. I'm proud of my team. Being a part of this team and knowing the things that we've been through, the teams that we've beat and the situations we've been in, I personally feel this team can play with anybody in the country."
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- University of Phoenix Stadium is just as cavernous as it looks on TV, and it will serve as an appropriate setting as two college football giants clash tonight in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (FOX, 8 p.m.).
Media members received a police escort from our resort to the stadium, which was pretty cool until we hit traffic in downtown Phoenix and the cops didn't help much. It was pretty funny to see the reactions from fans, who thought the buses carried Ohio State and Texas players rather than out-of-shape reporters. Sorry to disappoint.
I didn't get much of a chance to walk around, but the parking lots around the stadium are already buzzing with fans of both teams. The highlight was seeing a massive one-piece Jim Cordle jersey worn by four young women, presumably Cordle's friends or family members. If Cordle and his fellow linemen look that big on the field tonight, Texas could be in trouble.
No. 3 Texas enters its second Fiesta Bowl at 11-1, looking to restate its case as a national title contender after getting snubbed from the championship game last month. The Longhorns were a play away from reaching Miami and should be keyed up for this one. No. 10 Ohio State also has plenty to prove after flopping in the last two BCS title games. The Buckeyes are no strangers to Arizona, having won the Fiesta Bowl in 2003, 2004 and 2006. Their last trip inside this stadium ended in defeat, however, as they fell to Florida in the 2007 championship game.
On the health front, Texas has no reported injuries. Ohio State likely will be without third-string running back Brandon Saine, and reserve offensive tackle J.B. Shugarts won't play much if at all. Buckeyes starting wide receiver Brian Hartline might miss a series or two after reportedly committing a team rules violation last week.
Tonight's officiating crew is from the Big East Conference.
Here are three keys for each team heading into tonight's matchup.
- Get Colt McCoy on the move to establish an early offensive rhythm. Ohio State's defensive line has improved in the second half of the season, but the Buckeyes haven't seen a quarterback as dangerous as McCoy. If he performs anything like he did during the regular season, Texas shouldn't have trouble putting up points.
- Clog the middle and force Terrelle Pryor to win the game. The pre-game talk has centered on Longhorns All-American defensive end Brian Orakpo, but defensive tackle Roy Miller could be a more important player tonight. Ohio State wants to establish the power run game with Chris "Beanie" Wells. It's up to Miller and his linemates to slow him down.
- Guard against the big play. Ohio State has been too reliant on big plays this season, but Pryor and his receivers are capable of stretching the field at any time. Texas' secondary is vulnerable, but if the Longhorns keep the wide receivers in front of them, they should be OK.
- Establish Wells and the run game right away. Wells needs to have a huge night for Ohio State to keep pace with Texas. Though the junior thrives in big games, Texas defends the run well and Ohio State's offensive line has underperformed for most of the season. If Wells can wear down the Texas defensive front, Pryor will have opportunities to get creative.
- Don't be afraid to test the Texas secondary. If there's a weakness for the Longhorns, it's the back four, and while the Buckeyes want to run the ball, they can't shy away from passing on first down. There's been some buzz about using Pryor and fellow quarterback Todd Boeckman on the field together. Sounds like a good idea for an offense that gets stale at times.
- Defensive stars have to make plays. Linebacker James Laurinaitis and cornerback Malcolm Jenkins will graduate as two of the most decorated Ohio State defenders in team history. As they take the field for their final collegiate game, both men must be major factors in trying to disrupt McCoy and the Longhorns offense.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Roy Miller tried to take a glass-half-full approach with the polls this season.
It lasted about two weeks.
"The voters ain't been too good to us," the Texas senior defensive tackle said. "I don't know what to think."
After being snubbed from the BCS national title game despite beating one of the participants (Oklahoma), the third-ranked Longhorns understandably aren't too fond of the pollsters.
The possibility of a split national championship is being floated this week in the desert, as Texas prepares to face No. 10 Ohio State on Monday night in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (FOX, 8 p.m. ET). Should Texas crush Ohio State and Oklahoma sneak by Florida, the AP voters could always put Texas -- or even USC -- at No. 1 in their final poll.
"I'm not going to get wrapped up in that," Miller said. "I just want to have a good game. That's all we can do, control what we can, play to a national championship standard. I don't want to get wrapped up in, 'Maybe we may get this many votes.'
"As history has shown, we've been very disappointed after the voters' decisions."
Texas All-American defensive end Brian Orakpo acknowledged the national title game snub serves as fuel heading into Monday's matchup. But anything beyond that, including a split title, doesn't concern the Longhorns.
"Obviously before we were very disappointed, not getting in there and dwelling and being sad and all that stuff," Orakpo said. "But we put that aside a long time ago in Austin. We're very well focused. We're happy to be here at the Fiesta Bowl.
"We'll see come January 6th and the next day. If it goes our way, then hey, we've got an argument. But we've got to take care of business."
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- More than once after a game this season, Terrelle Pryor noted how college football isn't all that different from the Pennsylvania high school scene he dominated as the nation's No. 1 recruit.
|AP Photo/Seth Perlman|
|Terrelle Pryor has successfully made the transition from high school to the college game.|
After helping Ohio State stomp Michigan State, 45-7, on Oct. 18, Pryor told reporters, "It's just like high school." The line became Pryor's trademark this fall as he won Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors and led Ohio State to another BCS bowl appearance as the starting quarterback.
"Liar," Buckeyes senior tight end Rory Nicol said. "But Terrelle's from PA [Pennsylvania], I'm from PA, too, so I'm allowed to say that. He's a good athlete, man."
Such a good athlete that Pryor's transition from high school to college has been smoother than many had expected, even for a freshman who came to Ohio State with unparalleled hype. Pryor has had his growing pains, but he led the Big Ten in pass efficiency (152.1) and posted an 8-1 mark as the starter.
With small-forward size and a smooth, seemingly effortless running style, Pryor at times looked like the best player on the field, just like he was at Jeannette Senior High School.
Could it really be that easy?
"You can't really argue with him," senior cornerback Malcolm Jenkins said. "He was just in high school last year, so he comes in, he's doing amazing things as a freshman. It kind of is just like high school."
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
12:00 PM ET Iowa Pittsburgh 12:00 PM ET Eastern Michigan 11 Michigan State 12:00 PM ET Western Illinois Northwestern 12:00 PM ET Southern Illinois Purdue 12:00 PM ET Bowling Green 19 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET Maryland Syracuse 3:30 PM ET Utah Michigan 3:30 PM ET Rutgers Navy 4:00 PM ET Massachusetts Penn State 4:00 PM ET San Jose State Minnesota 4:00 PM ET Texas State Illinois 4:00 PM ET Indiana 18 Missouri 8:00 PM ET Miami (FL) 24 Nebraska