Sugar Bowl Picks: Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Arkansas Razorbacks

Last Updated: January 3rd, 2011 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)

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The Ohio State Buckeyes could be reaching the end of an era this week at the Sugar Bowl, where they are going to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. There are storylines galore to analyze before making our NCAA football picks in this one, and we have the three keys to the game that you have to watch out for here at Bankroll Sports!

Key #1: The Buckeyes have to let the off the field issues stay off the field
Though we know that QB Terrelle Pryor, WR DeVier Posey, and RB Daniel Herron are amongst the five players that have vowed to come back for their senior seasons next year, we aren’t so sure that that is going to be the case. These five juniors, all of which are eligible to go to the NFL Draft next year if they please, were at the center of a scandal in which they were suspended for the first five games of next season. Head Coach Jim Tressel and company were lucky to find out that none of the top Buckeyes were suspended for the biggest game of the season in the Sugar Bowl, though. That being said, nothing is stopping these players from hopping out of Columbus right after this game is over, never getting punished for their actions. All of these distractions could be a tremendous key in this game. If OSU isn’t focused, it is going to be punished by a well disciplined bunch of Razorbacks. The Buckeyes also have to forget about that the Big Ten was dominated on New Year’s Day is bowl games. They are a totally different team this year than the rest of this conference was, and they can’t let the conference’s 2-5 record stop them.

Sugar Bowl Odds at BetUS Sportsbook
Ohio State Buckeyes -3.5
Arkansas Razorbacks +3.5
Over/Under 57
Click Here to Bet on Your Sugar Bowl Picks!

Key #2: This Buckeye defense has to be as nasty as advertised
After watching the TCU Horned Frogs take down the Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl, we’re not really so sure about this argument, but this Ohio State defense really could have been the best in the nation this year. The Buckeyes held teams to just 251.6 yards per game this year, and though this was a country mile away from what the Horned Frogs allowed, it was still easily good enough to finish second in the land. OSU ranked No. 6 or better in the land in every single major defensive categories this year. Allowing 13.3 points per game this year, and this was a stat that would have been a lot better had this unit not been victim to a number of special teams and offensive blunders. We also have to remember that this was a fairly brutal schedule this year, and the only team that scored more than 24 points against this ‘D’ was the Wisconsin Badgers.

Key #3: Ryan Mallett has to continue spreading the ball around to the rest of his offensive weapons
Mallett was one of the most unheralded quarterbacks in the nation this year, and we are somewhat bothered by the fact that he really has fallen off of the map as a potential top NFL prospect. We’re not so sure that he isn’t the best signal caller in the land as a pure passer, and that includes Heisman Trophy winner QB Cam Newton in his own conference. Mallett completed 66.5 percent of his passes this year for 3,592 yards and 30 TDs against 11 picks in the toughest conference in America. The recently declared QB Blaine Gabbert for the Missouri Tigers is supposedly a Top 20 pick in the NFL Draft, and he might be up into the Top 5 when push comes to shove. This is really the chance for Mallett to shine against one of the best defenses in the country, though. We also have to remember that Mallett hasn’t had WR Greg Childs since the end of October. Still, there are going to be six receivers on this team that end up with more than 600 yards for the season assuming that TE DJ Williams has at least 11 yards for the game. There are a ton of speed burners on this team right now. WR Cobi Hamilton is averaging 19.6 yards per reception to lead this team, but WR Jarius Wright is at 18.9 yards per catch as well. WR Joe Adams is at 16.9 yards per catch to boot. This is why Mallett is averaging almost ten yards per time that he drops back to throw the pigskin. If that keeps up, the Hogs have a great chance at pulling off the upset.

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Posted in College Football - Last Updated on Monday, January 3rd, 2011 @ 9:23 pm (EST)
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