The Sugar Bowl on Tuesday, January 4th is a marquee battle between the Ohio State Buckeyes and their fantastic defense and the Arkansas Razorbacks and their high powered offense ked by Ryan Mallett. Interestingly, of the eight Big Ten teams to make a bowl game this season, Ohio State is the only one that is favored, at -3½, and that is vs. a team against the loaded SEC West Division!
Ohio State’s only loss this season came at Wisconsin, while Arkansas’s two losses were to Alabama and Auburn while each team was number one in the nation.
Key #1: Will Arkansas be able to run the ball to keep the Buckeyes defense from keying on Ryan Mallett?
Mallett is one of the best quarterbacks in the country, as he passed for almost 3600 yards this season while completing a nice 66.5 percent of his passes and averaging a potent 9.9 yards per attempt. Keep in mind though that no matter how great he is, the outstanding Ohio State defense would in all likelihood be able to stop a one dimensional passing offense. The Razorbacks’ offense became just about unstoppable though when they established a running game late in the year, averaging a whopping 225.0 rushing yards per game in their last three games. They will need to continue that rushing success to win here.
Arkansas vs. Ohio State Sugar Bowl Game Betting:
– Arkansas vs. Ohio State Point Spread: Ohio State -3.5 points
– Arkansas vs. Ohio State Over-Under: 58 points
– Arkansas vs. Ohio State Expert Picks: CLICK HERE
– Arkansas vs. Ohio State Player Prop Bets: CLICK HERE
Key #2: Will the Razorbacks’ defense make enough stops to give themselves a chance to win?
Arkansas has been able to simply outscore many opponents this year, as their defense has been inconsistent. Yes, the statistics say they are allowing a respectable 22.8 points per game, but it is the distribution of those points that is cause for some concern. They allowed 21 points or less six times, but four of those opponents were UTEP, Vanderbilt, UL Monroe and Tennessee Tech! The two good teams they contained were South Carolina (20) and Texas A&M (17), and they allowed 31.8 points per game in their other six contests. The Ohio State offense is averaging 39.4 points and 450.9 yards per game.
Key #3: Will Ohio State be able to finally snap a 22-year losing streak vs. SEC teams?
Ohio State has always been one of the best teams in the Big 10, but they have also always struggled when stepping out to play teams from other BCS conferences. They have not beaten an SEC school since beating LSU in 1988, losing eight straight matchups vs. what is considered the best conference in the country since then. Now I usually do not put much stock in long term team-specific trends like that, but the Buckeyes keep hearing about it so it has to get into their psyche.
I think this is an odd spot for the Big Ten to have its only bowl favorite, as I feel Arkansas will win this game. If Arkansas can run the ball just decently, and I think they will do better than that, that would be all that is needed to make this the best offense Ohio State has faced all year. Also, do not forget that Big Ten bowl favorites are just 4-16, 20.0 percent ATS since 2000.
Arkansas 34 – Ohio State 24