Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Instant analysis: Ohio State 31, Arkansas 26
By Brian Bennett
NEW ORLEANS -- Instant analysis of the Allstate Sugar Bowl, which No. 6 Ohio State won 31-26 over No. 8 Arkansas:
How the game was won: Arkansas nearly pulled off a comeback for the ages. Down 28-7 late in the first half and 31-13 in the third quarter, the Razorbacks completely turned things around with their defense to put a cork in the Ohio State offense, which had 338 yards at halftime. In the end, though, Ryan Mallett and the powerful Arkansas offense misfired too many times both early and late, falling just short.
Turning point: After a blocked punt set Arkansas up on the Ohio State 18, Mallett was picked off by Solomon Thomas with 58 seconds remaining. It was the first and only turnover of the game. The Razorbacks missed opportunities all night. After cutting the lead to 31-23 with a safety, they had the ball three times, all with advantageous field position. They came away with just three points.
Stat of the game: Arkansas receivers dropped six passes.
Player of the game: Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward. He manhandled Arkansas tackle DeMarcus Love most of the night and was the biggest reason why the Razorbacks couldn't get as many points as they're used to.
Unsung hero of the game: Arkansas punter Dylan Breeding had four punts downed inside the Ohio State 20, including three inside the 5.
What it means: Ohio State snaps its nine-game losing streak to SEC teams in bowls, and the Buckeyes gave the Big Ten some BCS redemption after its brutal New Year's Day. The Buckeyes who were controversially suspended for next season and not the bowl game all came up big. Arkansas acquitted itself well in its first-ever BCS game, but the Razorbacks will long regret the missed chances to win this game. Mallett is most likely bound for the NFL, but Bobby Petrino could have a highly-ranked team going into next season all the same.