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Rose Bowl notebook: Bucks, Ducks offer contrast of style

Andy Gottesman / The Lantern

The 96th Rose Bowl will feature a classic clash of styles.

Oregon has rushed for at least 175 yards in each game since its season-opening loss to Boise State. Against USC, who delivered one of Ohio State’s two losses, the Ducks piled up 394 yards on the ground.

The Buckeyes, on the other hand, are one of just five teams in the nation that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher. Oregon tailback LaMichael James has topped the century mark on nine different occasions this season.

Clearly, something has to give.

“I haven’t seen [Ohio State] play an offense like ours,” James said Tuesday.

Junior linebacker Ross Homan echoed James’ sentiment, saying that Oregon “is going to be the best offense we’ve seen all year.”

Oregon employs a quick-hitting offensive attack, with several rushing options, including quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. OSU safety Kurt Coleman said the key lies in keeping the Ducks’ offense in a location where they can’t do much harm: the sidelines.

“We’re trying to stop them as soon as possible to get them off the field,” Coleman said.

Contrary to Oregon’s relentless offensive scheme, the Buckeyes have pounded the opposition with their steady running game during their current five-game winning streak.

“If you look at the offenses, we’ve stuck to what we do best, and that’s our running game,” Coleman said. “It’s not the glitz and glamour of it, but it’s effective for us. Oregon spreads it out and they do a lot of trickery and try to do a lot of misdirection plays, and that works for them. They’re different styles of offense, but they both work in our favors.”

 

Knee injury of little concern for Pryor

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor revealed Monday that he has been playing and practicing with a slight tear in his left knee, though the injury shouldn’t hinder his play Friday, he said.

Pryor stated that his knee has been “a little sore,” and was informed that the grounds for the discomfort is likely a tear in the posterior cruciate ligament.

The sophomore played through a sore ankle for much of the second half of the season, but there was no prior indication that he was suffering from a knee injury. He sat out the second half of Ohio State’s 45-0 win over New Mexico State on Oct. 31 after hurting the ankle.

The Buckeyes focused more of the offense around the running game once Pryor suffered the ankle injury, rushing for at least 225 yards in each of their last five games.

Pryor said that the knee isn’t something he worries about and that it shouldn’t slow him down in the Rose Bowl.

 

Defense’s last stand

Leading Texas in the waning minutes of last year’s Fiesta Bowl, the Ohio State defense surrendered a game-clinching touchdown drive.

As the clock trickled toward zero against USC on Sept. 12, the Buckeye defense couldn’t hold a 15-10 advantage.

If the Buckeyes assume a late lead during the Rose Bowl, can the defense be trusted?

“The Texas game we probably celebrated a little too early,” Coleman said. “We thought that game was ours.”

Granted, the OSU defense did halt Iowa in overtime to put its offense in position to kick the game-winning field goal.

But that was only after the defense allowed a 70-yard touchdown drive in the closing minutes that sent the game into the extra session.

“It’s a stigma that’s been on us for a while,” senior defensive lineman Doug Worthington said. “But you go back to some games, like the Iowa game, where it’s the same situation and we buckled down and made the plays we needed to make.

“It’s reassuring that it can happen, but you have to make sure that you do that. We understand that it’s a four-quarter game, and a team like [Oregon] can strike at any time. If it’s a close game, we have to make sure we buckle down at the end and make the plays to stop them.”

 

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