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Coach Tressel Postgame Press Conference
NEW ORLEANS, La. – “Lessez Les Bon Temps Roulez!”
As they say in French down here: “Let the good times roll!” No. 6 Ohio State snapped an 0-9 streak against SEC teams in bowl games by holding on late vs. No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks for a 31-26 nail-biter in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Tuesday before 73,879 fans.
The Buckeyes finish 2010 with a 12-1 record while Arkansas dropped to 10-3. In addition, the win also allowed Ohio State to tie Southern California with its sixth Bowl Championship Series bowl victory, an FBS record.
Terrelle Pryor, who had 336 total yards of offense and two TD passes, was named MVP of the bowl, but it was reserve defensive lineman Solomon Thomas who came up with the most unexpected play of the game.
After Ohio State failed to salt away the game clock and was forced to punt from its own 38-yard line with just more than a minute remaining, Arkansas blocked Ben Buchanan’s kick and recovered the ball at the OSU 18.
Following an Arkansas incompletion on first down, Thomas drifted back into coverage and picked off Mallet for his first career interception and what turned out to be the game-sealing play. Pryor took a knee in victory formation, ending the drama to the joy of thousands of Buckeye fans who made the trek to the Big Easy.
Ohio State went wild in the first half by scoring four touchdowns behind a dominant offense to build a 28-10 lead at the break. The Buckeyes would only muster a 47-yard field goal by Devin Barclay in the second half, opening the door for the Razorback rally.
On its first possession, Ohio State marched 74 yards in eight plays to grab a quick 7-0 lead. Pryor capped the drive with a 37-yard running play. He fumbled at the end and Sanzenbacher recovered it in the end zone for the score. Corey “Philly” Brown had a big 13-yard reception on third down to keep the drive alive.
The Buckeyes went 68 yards in seven plays for a touchdown on their second possession for a 14-7 lead at the 7:17 mark of the first quarter. A 31-yard completion to Sanzenbacher set Ohio State up on the Arkansas 21 and Dan “Boom” Herron rushed twice to cover the remaining yards to pay dirt for his 12th consecutive game with a score. Herron finished the game with 87 yards on 24 carries.
After Arkansas failed on a fourth and 1 play from the Ohio State 30 when Cameron Heyward batted away a Mallett pass at the line of scrimmage, Ohio State drove 70 yards for its third score of the game. Pryor fired a perfect pass to a well-defensed Sanzenbacher, but the senior from Toledo made the catch for a 15-yard touchdown and a 21-7 Ohio State lead. A big play in the drive was a 42-yard completion from Pryor to Reid Fragel down to the Arkansas 28. Sanzenbacher totaled three catches in the game for 59 yards.
Just inside of two minutes to play in the half, Ohio State struck again. Pryor found DeVier Posey with a 43-yard touchdown pass play. Posey made a marvelous catch, turning 180 degrees to pull the ball in over his left shoulder to extend the lead to 28-7. Pryor’s impressive stat line included 115 yards on 15 carries and 221 more yards through the air on 14 of 25 passing.
Arkansas had initially tied the score at 7-apiece when Mallett connected first with D.J. Williams on an 18-yard gainer and then with Joey Williams on the game-tying touchdown one play later. The 51-yard drive was set up by a short Ohio State kickoff.
Arkansas kicked a field goal at the end of the first half to cut the lead to 28-10. Another field goal early in the third quarter got the Hog fans going once again with the score 28-13.
With momentum now in the Arkansas corner, Mallet led and capped another third-quarter scoring drive, finding Jarius Wright for a 22-yard touchdown in the corner of the endzone despite blanket coverage by OSU senior DB Devon Torrence. Mallet then found D.J. Williams in the flat for a successful 2-point conversion and a 31-21 score. The drive covered 75 yards on seven plays and took just 58 seconds.
In the fourth quarter, Arkansas used another win in the field position battle and tackled Herron in the in the endzone for a safety, making the score 31-23 with 11:52 to play.
A 24-yard Mallet connection to Wright highlighted the ensuing Arkansas drive before kicker Zach Hocker booted a 47-yard field goal, cutting the Ohio State lead to just five at 31-26.
Now entangled in a one-possession game, several Pryor scrambles moved the chains for the Buckeyes on their next drive. However, a Herron fumble on a fourthand a foot play at the 37 yard-line with 6:10 to play gave Arkansas possession in OSU territory. Ohio State recovered the loose ball but lost yardage turned the ball back to the Razorbacks.
The Buckeye defense stiffened and forced a three and out from Arkansas, but again found itself staring at a long field taking possession at the 4-yard line. Herron gave the Buckeyes breathing room, busting off tackle for a 17-yard gain on first down. The collective exhale from the Ohio State fan base did not last long as the drive stalled, Buchanan’s block punt followed before Thomas saved the day.