Buckeyes Not Bored By BCS Berths

Dane Sanzenbacher said it's hard to shake the feeling that more could have been accomplished this year for the Ohio State football team, but that doesn't mean the team's bowl destination is a disappointment. Much will still be on the line when the No. 6 Buckeyes take on Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.

Dane Sanzenbacher is happy that Ohio State is playing in the fourth BCS game in his four seasons.

The Ohio State senior wideout just knows that so much more could be on the line this January after the Buckeyes reached No. 1 in the polls at the midway point of their 2010 season.

"You can't help but think that you let one get away, I guess," Sanzenbacher said. "I'd be lying if I said that we feel like we got everything out of this season that we could because when we walk into a season, our goal is the national championship. To be that one win in Madison away from it, it's disappointing."

While the co-captain admitted the loss to Wisconsin on Oct. 16 in the first game since moving up to the top spot in the polls still stings a bit, he added a final caveat to his answer.

"But to go be Big Ten champions and go to another BCS bowl, I don't think anybody is going to hang their head about that," Sanzenbacher said.

With news of recent suspensions, one would think that enthusiasm could even go up a notch when the Buckeyes enter the Louisiana Superdome on Jan. 4 to face No. 8 Arkansas.

Not only will a group of accomplished seniors be playing in its final game, it will be the last contest before a multigame suspension next season for five underclassmen who were recently punished by the NCAA, including Terrelle Pryor. With their status in doubt going forward, in many ways this could be the last hurrah for this specific group of players.

That adds a level of interest to the game that might have been lacking before. When the matchup and bowl destination were announced, it was fair to wonder just how much excitement there was on the team for another BCS bowl, a great achievement but one shy of what the team hoped to accomplish this year. In addition, the luster of going to a BCS game is nothing new.

In 2006 and '07 – two years in which current seniors on the team took part – Ohio State went through the holiday season preparing to play for a national championship. One year later, the Buckeyes traveled to the Fiesta Bowl to take on a Texas team that many thought should be playing in the title game.

Last year was historic for the simple reason that Ohio State went back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1996 season. Even though there was little on the line other than bragging rights vs. Oregon, the fact that the Buckeyes were in Pasadena was a big deal considering how the Rose Bowl used to be the biggest prize on the schedule each year.

"I'll admit that we've been a bit spoiled, especially this senior class," Sanzenbacher said. "We walked right into playing for a national championship our first year, and we've played in BCS bowls ever since. We have been spoiled, but we wouldn't want it any other way."

This year's matchup, meanwhile, will take place in New Orleans, a city the Buckeyes and their fans visited three years ago, so it's not exactly an exotic locale. Add in the fact that this is Ohio State's sixth straight BCS game and there was originally little on the line except bragging rights vs. the SEC.

The recent turmoil around the program now adds a little spice in a city known for it, but the Buckeyes said they were looking forward to the opportunity to play in the game even before that.

"It's definitely a big deal," senior offensive tackle Bryant Browning said. "There's only a couple of these games and one national championship game. You go out and the bowl committees treat you well. You get to go have a lot of great experiences. You get to see a new part of the country usually. You get to have a little vacation with your team and go out and play a great team in the country and see how you can do."

Ohio State fans would seem to agree. The Buckeyes' allotment of tickets sold out quickly, even though there were rumors that Arkansas fans helped out after UA's portion of the ducats were sold within minutes of being offered for the team's first BCS game.

Of course, there is a question of whether Arkansas' status will help or hurt the Buckeyes. No one knows how the Razorbacks will play in their first chance on what has become one of college football's biggest stages, but then again, the Hogs will try to use that excitement to their advantage as well.

"We know what it's like to play in the big game and our guys may know how to handle it better," OSU linebacker Brian Rolle said, "but I don't think it will impact the outcome of the game."

Then there's the simple matter of pride for Ohio State. No matter what has happened over the past few months as the team has gone from national championship contenders to a lightning rod for controversy, there will still be a lot to play for when the Buckeyes take the field four days into 2011.

"Playing in the Sugar Bowl or the Rose Bowl, I just can't see us thinking like, ‘Oh, this game just isn't that important,' " senior left tackle Andrew Miller said. "We're going there, we're spending seven days there or however long we're going to spend and we're going to practice.

"I just think the guys that we have here, when we're on a football field, we just compete. It doesn't matter what game it's for or what drill you're doing, that's just how it is."


Buckeye Sports Top Stories