Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Five Thoughts on the Fiesta Bowl

1. The first three quarters of the Fiesta Bowl played out the same as the first three quarters of the Citrus Bowl: the Big Ten team took the initiative against a more talented Southern opponent, but didn't establish a significant lead because of an affection for playing close to the vest and kicking field goals. (I truly wonder whether the 1974 Michigan-Ohio State game, which the Bucks won 12-10 without scoring a touchdown, was a formative event for Jim Tressel.) The more talented team woke up in the third quarter and took a 17-6 lead by throwing the ball all over the place. The difference between Michigan State and Ohio State is that the Bucks have more talent and depth, so they were able to survive Texas's run and counter punch. That doesn't change the fact that Ohio State squandered a first half that they controlled until a roughing the passer penalty let Texas move the ball 75 yards in the last minute.

1a. Ohio State's offense consisted of two effective plays: (1) I-formation runs with Beanie Wells; and (2) Terrelle Pryor running around for eight seconds in homage to Peach County's offense when Jacquez Green was under center.

2. My meta-thought from the bowl games is that the Big Ten is the most traditional and conservative of all of the major conferences in terms of playing style. Because the Big Ten has demographics going against it, its teams need to be prepared to play with less talent than USC, SEC teams, Texas, etc. However, they continue to play as if they have a major talent advantage. Basic I-formation, two-deep zone football works if you're Miami in 2001; it doesn't work when the other team has more talent and it definitely doesn't work when the other team has more talent and is doing sophisticated stuff on one or both sides of the ball. Despite a Gotterdamerung of a season, I like the direction that Michigan is taking because they're converting to a style that can work in a game against USC or Florida.

3. I can't recall the name of Fox's color guy, but he seemed very intent on pointing out at halftime that the key stat was Ohio State's rushing advantage was critical. This was at a time in which the overall yardage and first downs were virtually even and the score wasn't tied only because of Colt McCoy's horrendous throw at the end of the first half. What difference does it make whether a team gets to 200 yards at halftime by 80% running or 80% passing? I can understand the significance of rushing and passing at the end of the game, but only as a sign of an effect instead of a cause. The trailing team tends to pile up passing yards chasing the game; the leading team tends to pile up rushing yards killing the clock.

4. Maybe I've been doing too much WWII reading recently and have this stuff on the brain (or I'm just bitter about 3-9), but is the Best Damn Band in the Land intentionally paying homage to the SS with those blackshirts?

5. I don't think his arm is quite good enough for the NFL, but wow is Colt McCoy a great college quarterback. His release is so quick and he's as accurate as anyone I've seen. His ability to consistently zip balls into receivers sitting in holes in the Texas zone was impressive. The winning throw to Quan Cosby was the combination of a quick recognition of a blitz and an accurate throw to let Cosby catch the ball while running and beat the safety. The spin move for Texas's first touchdown was also a nice touch. I can see the argument for McCoy over Bradford for the Heisman because McCoy shines with less around him...or at least I could see that argument if I cared about the Heisman.

1 comment:

Ryno said...

Are we seriously going to have to watch the entire Script Ohio proceedings every time OSU plays in a bowl game?

And Fox College broadcast team is terrible.