Buckeyes Deftly Dismantle Ducks

Special to CFN
Posted Jan 1, 2010

The following is a live journal composed during the Rose Bowl Presented by Citi between Ohio State and Oregon. All times listed are Pacific Standard Time.

Author's e-mail: aaron.calhoun451@gmail.com


1:44 – Everyone is making this game out to be a matchup between Oregon's offense and Ohio State's defense—and rightfully so. Both are high-powered units and whichever one underperforms, even slightly, will almost undoubtedly be a part of the losing side.

1:54 – Also worth noting: Terrelle Pryor has only thrown a total of fifty-one passes in the Buckeyes' last three wins; look for the Ducks to load up the box to shut down the run in the early going.


2:12 – Pryor's first pass is nearly intercepted. Nothing more needs to be said.

2:13 – Well, Pryor's knee looked okay until he made a cut on that run (it has been bothering him this past week); hopefully, for the Buckeyes sake, he doesn't aggravate it any further.

2:14 – As long as Pryor maintains this level of accuracy, then this is brilliant strategy by Jim Tressel; the Oregon defense has been looking run (rightfully so), but Ohio State has relied almost exclusively on the pass and, if the play breaks down, then Pryor can create.

2:17 – That first drive couldn't have gone better for the Buckeyes—Brandon Saine clearly kept his feet inbounds by the way (Finally, some good camera angles!)—they came out throwing to catch the Ducks off guard and Pryor was able to make things happen if his initial options were not available.

7-0 Ohio State

2:23 – The Oregon offense, not surprisingly, isn't wasting any time in trying to answer; that's two first downs in two plays.

2:26 – That was a perfect example of how small the margin of error is in this game: One good play by the Ohio State defense—the sack of Jeremiah Masoli by Buckeye defensive tackle Cameron Heyward—killed a promising looking drive. If there's a silver lining, though, it is that the Ducks were able to down that punt inside the five.

2:28 – There goes any hope of a safety for the Oregon defense; even worse, they are tagged with a facemask penalty to move the ball to the 23 yard line. So far, the Ducks have offered little resistance.

2:34 – On the flipside, Pryor suffers a sack, which makes it the first good defensive play Oregon has made all game, and that causes the Ohio State drive to stall—margin of error, everyone. Remember it.

2:36 – That's four penalties committed by the Ducks already; it's not like the Buckeyes require the help right now.

2:39 – Defensive back Anderson Russell will never have an easier opportunity than that to make an interception; at the very least, though, Ohio State got a stop and Oregon will have to punt from the back of their own end zone.

2:42 – The Ducks cannot cover Saine on the sideline; that's twice that he has made a catch near the boundary—the first went for the Buckeye touchdown—and earned a longer gain by doing a tightrope act.

2:46 – Two consecutive called runs for Pryor? The first run by the quarterback was a result of a bad snap, but that is still some questionable playcalling that close to the goal line.

10-0 Ohio State

2:48 – It took almost an entire quarter, but the Oregon offense finally figured out that trying to run to the outside might be a good idea against a defense with an emphasis on size.



2:53 – The middle pressure by Buckeye safety Kurt Coleman forced Masoli to throw that ball before he wanted to; receiver Jeff Maehl was open in the end zone, but he couldn't get to the pass.

10-3 Ohio State

2:57 – Why on earth would you even think about doing that? Ohio State is ahead, has the momentum, and would have had decent enough field position with a straight return; instead, they get cute with a reverse and lose about seven yards in the process.

3:00 – And just like that, Oregon seizes the momentum off the ill-fated reverse, a horrific Buckeye offensive series, and a good punt return from running back Kenjon Barner—a converted defensive back. Where do the Ducks find these guys? This is like the Denver Broncos around the turn of the millennium.

3:05 – Maehl is a very underappreciated receiver; that was a heck of a catch to convert on 4th and 9.

3:07 – Ohio State had to know that LeGarrette Blount was getting the ball on that play, yet he still got penetration and, possibly, a touchdown...definitely a touchdown.

Tied 10-10

3:16 – So far, Pryor has been on target with his throws; on a day where that happens, the Buckeyes can ill afford to have receivers dropping passes.

3:18 – A second defensive facemask on the Ducks, which will prevent them from getting the ball back; their opponent has yet to commit a penalty, so this could very well be Oregon's undoing if it keeps up.

3:21 – There's Pryor buying time, creating, and hitting running back Daniel Herron for fifteen yards on 3rd and 12; those types of plays are exactly what Ohio State needs from its quarterback.

3:27 – The Buckeyes are faced with 4th and 1 at the Duck 14 yard line; this is a tough decision for Mr. Sweater Vest over on the sideline—either kick a chip shot field goal to get the lead back or go for it against Oregon's stingy defense.

3:30 – Ohio State goes for it and gets the first down easily; considering the explosive offense its opposed with, that was the right call.

3:32 –Unfortunately, that was the final correct call of the drive; Pryor made a bad throw on 1st down, then a quick out—which almost never works in the confines of the red zone—on second down made third down too far to go for the Buckeyes to put it in the end zone.

13-10 Ohio State

3:35 – That's about as close as it gets; it looks like the knee went down and the ball came out simultaneously; there probably isn't enough evidence to overturn the call.

3:38 – Masoli is intercepted, due to the ball being tipped at the line of scrimmage, by linebacker Ross Homan and Ohio State is going to have a chance to extend its lead before halftime.

3:41 – For as much as Pryor is decried for his youthful mistakes, at least he didn't pull a Colt McCoy in not putting too much air under that throwaway and possibly allowing the clock to expire.

16-10 Ohio State


3:47 – About seventy-five percent of America, according to an ESPN poll, thought that Oregon would win this game—and most of them probably figured they would win it rather easily. What these people forgot was that Ohio State was bringing the toughest defense the Ducks have faced all season into Pasadena. Ever since this matchup was put together, the Buckeyes have known that their only chance is to keep it a low scoring affair; so far, the defense has come through in that regard. The real story, though, is Terrelle Pryor, who, due to Oregon's defensive strategy, has been forced to make more plays with his arm than his legs; that is what the Ducks wanted, but the problem is the quarterback is having one of his better games in the passing department. With the way Ohio State's defense is playing, the offense isn't going to have to do a lot, so the faster Oregon can make adjustments on defense, the better.


4:06 – The Buckeye special teams better learn how to tackle Barner on kickoff returns because he has been gashing them continually.

4:08 – That is a horrible pass interference call; there was virtually no contact and, if anything, Maehl jumped into the Ohio State defender.

4:12 – Chip Kelly is going to go for it here; his kicker doesn't have that strong of a leg; plus, 4th and 3 is pretty manageable…and the drive continues.

4:15 – Oregon comes right out of the locker room and grabs its first lead of the game; this one looks like it's going down to the wire.

17-16 Oregon

4:22 – That was a beautiful play by Pryor; the play action froze the defense, then he threw, on the run, before receiver DeVier Posey even made his cut and the ball was still perfectly placed. The Buckeyes are back in business.

4:26 – Of all times for Pryor to finally make a really poor throw; he had receiver Dane Sanzenbacher wide open for a touchdown and he threw the ball behind him. Ohio State has to settle for a two-point lead instead of a five, six, or seven point one—this might be worth remembering later on.

19-17 Ohio State

4:29 – It's bad enough for the Buckeyes that the Duck offense is such a threat, but it's even worse that their special teams can't contain Barner on kickoffs to save their lives; giving Oregon a shorter field is like supplying Dick Clark with anti-aging cream: Both of them will use it to full effect.

4:32 – That is a deflating turnover at a terrible time; until that play, the Ducks looked like they had settled in on offense, but Blount botched the handoff and kicked the ball forward and it went out of bounds in the end zone for a touchback.

4:36 – There's Pryor's bad timing again; Herron had slipped behind the coverage, but the quarterback didn't put enough on his throw and Oregon safety John Boyett slid over and picked it off.

4:39 – LaMichael James is headed back to the locker room to have his shoulder looked at; even if he's gone for the rest of the game, the Ducks probably won't miss him because their running back core is practically everlasting.

4:41 – It hasn't been mentioned yet, but the Ohio State defense has done a great job in shutting down Oregon's star tight end, Ed Dickson; he has not caught a ball today.

4:44 – Brent Musberger just told the audience everything they needed to know in regards to how this is "a Buckeye kind of game"; that's not to say the Ducks don't have a chance—which would be downright silly in a two-point contest—but the low score clearly indicates that they have not been dictating how this game has gone.



4:48 – Jon Thoma has the answer for Ohio State being able contain Barner: Punt the ball out of bounds!

4:59 – Big time play by Kenny Rowe—it's never easy chasing down an athlete like Pryor for a loss, but he's done it on a couple of occasions.

5:00 – At this moment, that is the play of the game. Pryor threw that ball as he was being brought down and receiver Jake Ballard used the springs in his legs to leap up and snag that pass. What a play by both young men.

5:03 – Pryor was magical on that drive; he created when he had to and, when called upon to deliver a strike to the end zone, he was up to that too. Posey also made a heck of a catch which will easily stand up to review.

26-17 Ohio State

5:07 – Even without the ball, Barner still gashes the Buckeye special teams; it's remarkable that the Ducks have only amassed seventeen points despite all these great kick returns.

5:09 – This is not like Chip Kelly; it's 4th and 1, not 4th and 11, and Morgan Flint is not at all reliable from this range.

5:10 – The one time Coach Kelly goes conservative all season and it costs him; how could he possibly expect his weak-legged kicker to hit a career long field goal in this type of atmosphere?

5:19 – Here is "Tressel Ball" at its finest; nothing fancy is attempted, but a steady pace is kept that slowly, but surely, wears out the opponent. That is the story of this game: Oregon's fast-paced, up-tempo offense was stalled by the Ohio State defense.



Much has been made of Jim Tressel's approach to games, but this win is, without a doubt, the most profound evidence of how effective Mr. Sweater Vest's strategy is. His Buckeyes were faced with one of the most prolific offenses in the country, but it was held to seventeen points despite favorable field position for most of the day. As good as that collective performance was, it was topped by Terrelle Pryor, who was responsible for more yards by himself than the entire opposing offense. This game may be the one the college football world looks back on and remembers as the one where Pryor truly arrived. On the biggest stage of his young career, the sophomore had career highs in passes, attempts, and passing yards, only threw one interception, and made a number of things happen with his legs. Don't be surprised if, at the beginning of next season, Pryor has twice as many stickers on his helmet due to this effort.

In the beginning of September, nobody believed that Oregon would be playing in this game. At that point, they were coming off of a disastrous loss against Boise State and had lost their starting running back to a suspension. However, in rallying around Chip Kelly, the Ducks kept their heads high and their wings attached; the end result was a Pac-10 Championship and their first Rose Bowl berth in fifteen years, so the fact that they got to Pasadena in the first place is a huge accomplishment. Unfortunately, there is no moral victory for Oregon fans to take away from tonight. Kelly, who takes great pride in his aggressiveness, most likely cost his team the game by finally deciding to play it safe; it will remain a long-standing mystery as to why he did not trust his offense to convert on 4th and 1 after being perfect on such downs throughout the contest. Additionally, he did not have a kicker who was reliable from over forty yards at his disposal, so he should have waited on the field goal and kept faith in Jeremiah Masoli and company to put it in the end zone. Either way, in a game three-fourths of the country expected them to win, the Ducks crashed and burned on the big stage.

In a process that began with the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas on December 22, the Pac-10 Conference, just like Times Square, finished dropping the ball on New Year's Day.

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