Buckeyes May Be In For Sugar High

Ohio State will not learn its bowl fate until Sunday, but there are signs saying the Buckeyes are bound for the Big Easy. Read on to learn more about OSU's possible bowl destinations and why the Buckeyes are an alluring target for BCS bowls.

Fans of the Ohio State football team are eagerly waiting to find out the Buckeyes' bowl fate.

The coaches and players, however, are just happy to be playing one more game.

"We always say you get as your works deserve," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said. "Wherever you deserve to be you will be and we will be happy. We'll have a tough opponent."

The Buckeyes will be playing in a January bowl. Which one and against who is up in the air. The odds are the Buckeyes will be playing in a BCS bowl – either the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, the Orange Bowl in Miami or the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz. The BCS National Championship Game is likely not an option, nor is the Rose Bowl. The latter honor will likely go to Big Ten co-champion Wisconsin. The Badgers are Pasadena-bound as long as they keep their lead over fellow champions Ohio State and Michigan State in the final BCS standings, which will be unveiled this weekend.

Ohio State will learn its bowl fate Dec. 5 when the Bowl Championship Series Selection Show airs on ESPN. The smart money seems to be on the Buckeyes making a return to the Big Easy.

Ten teams will be picked to play in the five BCS bowls – the Rose, Fiesta, Orange, Sugar and the BCS title game in Glendale. The title game will be made up of the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the final BCS standings. The other eight spots will be made up of by automatic qualifiers – the champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, SEC and most likely TCU. The undefeated Horned Frogs will earn the automatic bid that goes to a conference champion from a non-automatic qualifying conference that finishes ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS standings. If TCU does not qualify for the national title game, it will also be slotted into the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin per BCS rules. The Granddaddy of Them All must take a non-automatic qualifying conference school this year if it loses either the Big Ten or Pac-10 champion to the title game.

That leaves three spots to be filled by at-large teams. The Buckeyes will be hoping to get one of those bids. Ohio State is eligible to receive one because it has won nine games and is among the top 14 teams in the BCS standings. The Buckeyes were No.6 in the Nov. 28 standings.

Another spot would likely to another SEC team – probably Arkansas, a 10-2 team that defeated LSU on Nov. 27 – assuming Auburn since the SEC championship game this weekend against South Carolina. If the Gamecocks win, Auburn would likely take an at-large spot and South Carolina would go to the Sugar Bowl.

Once the Sugar Bowl has its SEC team, the bowls would then take turns picking teams. The Orange Bowl must take the ACC champion – either Florida State or Virginia Tech – and the Fiesta Bowl must take the Big 12 champion – either Nebraska or Oklahoma. The open slots would then be picked by the Sugar, Orange and Fiesta in that order with the Big East champion and two at-large teams filling those slots.

John Sundsbury, the Sugar Bowl's director of media relations, told BSB the Buckeyes would be a tantalizing choice.

"I think they're appealing for any bowl," Sudsbury said. "They're 11-1, they're very highly ranked (and) they have such a great name. It's Ohio State football. Everybody knows that. It always makes for a great game. Their fans will travel. Our local fans will be interested.

"We're actually interested in the Big Ten, too. We haven't had a Big Ten team in the Sugar Bowl in quite a while. There's a lot of appeal with Ohio State."

The Buckeyes last played in the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 1998 season. Ohio State took a 24-14 victory over Texas A&M in that game to cap an 11-1 season.

You couldn't blame Ohio State seniors Chimdi Chekwa and Brian Rolle if they are rooting for a specific bowl when they learn their postseason fate. Chekwa lived in New Orleans before going to high school in Florida, while Rolle is from the Miami area. Yet neither professed a strong desire to end their careers near their childhood homes.

"None at all," Rolle said of his preference Nov. 27 after the Buckeyes ended their regular season with a win against archrival Michigan. "Guys were saying, ‘Man, if we go to the Orange Bowl I bet you'll be happy because it's in Florida.' But honestly, being a senior, any bowl game that we're lucky to go to I'll be proud of and happy to go to."

Added Chekwa: "I'd be excited to play in the Sugar Bowl, but I'd be excited to play in any BCS bowl at the same time."

Chekwa's attitude was one held by several members of the Ohio State football team, including senior safety Jermale Hines. Most simply expressed a desire to play in another BCS bowl.

"I definitely feel we should be in the BCS but it doesn't matter where," Hines said. "I just want to play another good football team."

Senior defensive end Cameron Heyward will be a little easier to please.

"I'm just glad we're not going to the McDonald's Bowl," he said. "We'll go anywhere we get a chance to. I can't wait."

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