The Sugar Bowl, sweet success for the Buckeyes
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Using the same college football simulation engine that accurately predicted over more than 75-percent of all regular-season games, we simulated each of the 35 bowl matchups 1,001 times.
Each team's winning percentage, average score and sample box score can be found below. If you would like to replay any bowl game, every 2010 bowl team roster is available using our free NCAA College Football SimMatchup feature.
If you conducted a straw poll three weeks ago that asked, "Out of the first eight Big Ten teams to compete in bowl games, which would come away with a win?" I'd be willing to bet the Big House that Illinois and Iowa would lose the popular vote.
The Hawkeyes' roster was gutted following several off-the-field issues, while Illinois was a) coming off an under-achieving loss to Fresno State (who lost to Northern Illinois in their bowl game) and b) playing in the Bears' backyard. Even with the deck stacked against them, Iowa and Illinois fared better than Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State, Northwestern and Wisconsin. This is not to mention the Big Ten's newest adopted son, Nebraska, failed in their bowl game against Washington where the Huskers were favored by double-digits.
The Big Ten, sitting at 2-5 this bowl season, will rely on Ohio State to lift their 2010-11 post-season record. The Buckeyes' recent scandal involving five members of the program, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, still occasionally sparks debate whether the "Buckeye Five" should play in the Sugar Bowl or if next season's five-game suspension is sufficient. But at this point, the argument is a moot point as the almighty dollar has spoken and the BCS/NCAA will trump Arkansas and Ohio State as the true winner of the Sugar Bowl.
The Whatifsports.com college football simulation engine does not factor in the off-field distractions surrounding the Sugar Bowl, but what it does know is, as of Monday, the Buckeyes will have all their horses when they play Arkansas.
We simulated the Sugar Bowl 1,001 times and the computer predicts the Buckeyes 66.3-percent of the time by an average score of 37-30. In case you forgot, Ohio State is 0-9 versus the SEC in bowl games.
Arkansas: Bobby Petrino's offense features Ryan Mallett, a 3,000-yard passer, RB Knile Davis who ran for more than 1,000 yards, and five receivers with at least 500 yards receiving. The Hogs averaged 37.3 ppg but averaged 42.5 points over their last six games (6-0).
Box Score: Pryor hit Dane Sanzenbacher for a 17-yard TD with just under a minute to go to give OSU the lead for good in a game where a lead never felt safe. The fourth quarter featured 28 total points, the final nine scored by OSU to give Jim Tressel another BCS bowl win. Pryor finished the game with three touchdown passes to take home Player of the Game honors.
To add a human element and the thoughts of somebody who has played in the "big game", we reached out to former Florida State quarterback and current Fox Sports college football analyst, Chris Rix, for his thoughts on the first meeting between the Buckeyes and Razorbacks.
"Many are favoring Ohio State, however with all the distractions leading up to this game I like Arkansas to win this game," Rix said.
Among FBS teams, Ohio State ranks second in total defense (250.5 ypg), fourth in rushing defense (94.3 ypg), fourth in pass defense (156.25 ypg), and third in scoring defense (13.3 ppg). Despite the statistical records, Rix is awarding the edge to Arkansas' quarterback.
"I believe that Ryan Mallet, who averaged nearly 350 yards passing per game this season, will have a big day against the OSU defense," Rix said.
The former signal caller for the Seminoles is also taking a step back from the field and looking at what a win for the Razorbacks would mean for the future of their program. At Ohio State, a season that doesn't end in a National Championship is considered a disappointment. The same, at least for now, cannot be said for followers of Woo Pig Sooie nation.
"I also feel that the motivation factor is bigger for Arkansas being their first BCS game and having not played in the Sugar Bowl since 1979," Rix said.
The motivation to win should also be felt on the opposite sideline for guys like Pryor, Boom Herron and Devier Posey who won't take the field in a game that matters until October 8th. Whether the "Buckeye Five" truly feel an urgency to win or just lucky for a second chance would be a strong topic worthy of a straw poll.
Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.