Pac-12: Rose Bowl first take
Jan. 1, 4:30 p.m.
On the surface, the Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi looks like a classic “irresistible force meets immovable object” matchup.
Oregon’s rushing attack ranks sixth in the country with 236 yards per game, while Ohio State’s run defense ranks fifth, surrendering a scant 83.4 yards per contest.
So who buckles first?
And will the Big Ten finally break through after losing six consecutive BCS bowl games?
Ohio State, which will be making its first Rose Bowl appearance since its 1997 win over Arizona State, is 7-0 all-time against the Ducks, but the teams haven’t met since 1987. Oregon last played in the Granddaddy in 1995, when it lost to Penn State.
While the Ducks' spread-option against the Buckeyes stout front-seven will get top billing on the marquee, Oregon’s defense isn’t so bad -- the Ducks surrendered 329 yards per game, which ranks 32nd in the country -- and the Buckeyes run the ball well (199 yards per game).
It will be interesting to see how the Ducks' fast but undersized front-seven matches up with a Buckeyes line that struggled early but has improved during the latter portion of the season.
The quarterbacks, however, might end up deciding things. Oregon wanted hotshot recruit Terrelle Pryor badly in 2008 to run its spread-option, but Pryor chose Ohio State, and the Ducks ended up with a JC transfer named Jeremiah Masoli.
Masoli has become one of the nation’s best dual-threat quarterbacks, while Pryor has been inconsistent.
Will Masoli continue to roll or will Pryor break through?
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
There's a chance an impressive win by either team might earn a scattering of protest No. 1 votes in the final national polls. But even without major national title implication, this is an intriguing matchup between a pair of traditional national powers led by big-name coaches who couldn't be more different. The popular storyline will be the Nittany Lions "HD" offense vs. the USC defense. It's interesting to note, however, that the Lions touted offense is nearly a statistical dead heat with a Trojans unit that's been maligned all season. USC averages 453 yards and 37.5 points per game; PSU averages 452 yards and 40 points per game. Oh, and the Lions aren't too shabby on defense themselves, ranking fifth in total yards (264) and fourth in scoring (12.4 ppg). Of course, USC, playing in its fifth Rose Bowl in six years, in many ways is in a no-win situation because of a nationwide lack of respect for the Big Ten. The Trojans also have dominated the Big Ten of late, winning eight straight against the conference by an average of 25 points, including four consecutive BCS bowl games.