Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Sugar Bowl. Let me first start out by saying I thought this would be just another football game. I was completely wrong. This was more than a game. This was every bit the spectacle people often say bowl games are. This was an experience I can honestly say I will never forget. It was amazing. Hands down it was the greatest sporting event I have ever been too.
I was able to attend the Sugar Bowl through my current employer. They have a suite in the Super Dome and through some connections me and the Yankee Loving Fiancée’s uncle each got a ticket. SCORE! Also around 4 PM I get a call from the Yankee Loving Fiancée saying she was able to get the last suite ticket through her employer too. DOUBLE SCORE! The reason this was important is because in the Super Dome, as long as you have a ticket for one of the suite levels you can move freely to any suite level and go in any suite as long as you know someone. Thanks to this we spent the first half the game in her suite which was located above the OSU band in the middle of the OSU seating sections. The second half we spent in my suite which was in the heart of the Razorback seating area… but we’ll get to all that in a minute.
The game itself was incredible. I couldn’t have asked for a better game. All of the NCAA issues that have come up in recent weeks and the whole BCS mess aside, this game was captivating (I’m not going to get into the suspension issue again. I’m sick of hearing about it and sick of talking about it. Let other people make it an issue. I’m over it). OSU stormed out to a big lead, Arkansas stormed back, and then the game came to an end on a series of ridiculously crazy plays. On the drive home I told the Yankee Loving Fiancée that this is why I watch every sporting event imaginable… Because you never know when you might get a game like this. I think she finally gets it.
Terrelle Pryor, despite all his issues and the fact he wore a Miami Heat hat in warm ups, was outstanding. He made every throw he needed to make and he broke free for quite a few big runs. He could have played better and done more in the second half, but as always I think he was handcuffed by Tressel’s second half conservatism.
Pryor’s speed is what many consider to be his biggest weapon and time and time again he has proven why. In person it’s ridiculous how fast he really is. Watching him on TV doesn’t really capture just how much faster he is than everybody else on the field. The scramble he made in the 4th quarter to get a first down after barely being sacked was absurd. He felt the pressure, took off, hit another gear, got to the corner…. and then hit another gear. I can only imagine what Michael Vick is like in person.
On the other side I was left feeling somewhat turned off by Ryan Mallet (He made it quite clear last night that he still has the Michigan stink on him). When you look at his numbers it’s clear he had a good game. Truth of the matter is he should have been even better. His receivers dropped too many medium to deep throws. What left me turned off on Ryan Mallet was his body language. In the first half when Arkansas was really struggling you could tell it effected him. He stared down receivers after plays, he slouched, he looked like OSU was in his head. I also feel like he has a lot of progress to make in terms of handling pressure. When Mallet had time to sit back and get into a rhythm he looked great. When he was running for his life, getting hit, and facing any kind of pressure he was completely ineffective. I can see teams like Baltimore and Pittsburgh giving him trouble at the next level.
The big debate circling this game right now, however, is did Ohio State win this game or did Arkansas choke this game away? I think it was a combination of the two. OSU got out to a strong start and never should have looked back. They tried to give the game away. Arkansas on the other hand put up one hell of an effort and almost made the miracle comeback. They found away to get a safety when they needed it and then moments later got an improbable blocked punt. They had the ball with a minute left at the OSU 20. They have arguably one of the top three QB’s in all of college football. Arkansas probably should have won the game, but did they choke it away? Yes, they didn’t scoop up the blocked kick for a TD and yes Mallet threw the game deciding interception. Of course, Mallet, as a top 3 QB needs to get the ball in the endzone there, but Solomon Thomas still has to make that play. He still has to catch the ball. He made the play, Mallet didn’t. OSU won the game, plain and simple. Of course it helps that Solomon was on the field and that Pryor was able to go legend, Posey was able to score a touchdown, and Herron could rack up yards on the ground…
Crap… said I wasn’t going to get into that. Moving on..
And what a win it was. Going in the Buckeyes were 0-9 versus the SEC in bowl games. OSU had developed a stigma that they couldn’t beat an SEC team. It was in everyone’s head the entire time Arkansas was making their comeback. The Arkansas crowd let OSU know it too. Don’t be fooled by the concept of a “neutral field.” This was a road game for OSU. Chants of S-E-C and WOO PIG SOOIE! were deafening. I tweeted last night that as a Cleveland native I have developed a complex for situations like the one presented in the fourth quarter. To pull that game out is huge for the psyches of everyone in Ohio. This is a big win and a confidence builder.
Moving on from the game itself, the atmosphere of the Sugar Bowl was amazing. There was an electricity surrounding it like nothing I have ever experienced. Fans for both Ohio State and Arkansas were great. There we no fights that I was aware of and everyone was more than cordial with one another. I was expecting a heated bloodbath of the verbal variety, but really each side kept to themselves.
Even though us Buckeye fans were outnumbered by what seemed to be 100-1, especially before the game in Champions Square, we brought the house down with the Seven Nation Army chant and the O-H-I-O chant. The Arkansas fans, as I mentioned earlier, also made their presence known with the Woo Pig Sooie chant, which by the way may be the most obnoxious chant in the history of chanting. There’s no real unison to it and they do it in threes. After fifteen minutes of it non stop before the game I was ready to stab myself in the ear with a pen. It could be effective as an anti hostage tactic.
All in all, I had an absolute blast. Couldn’t have asked for a better game or a better time. I’m honestly sad talking about it because it was so good that I’m sad it had to end. Fortunately, the memories will live on. I took a plethora of photos, some of which I’ll post on here later once I upload them to my computer. Seriously, what a good time. I’m still jacked up from it even though I’m running on about four hours of sleep. Oh, what the hell… Let’s do it one more time…