Looking at the 12-game slate in which the No. 8-ranked Razorbacks went 10-2 to qualify for their first BCS berth, it's hard not to notice the number 65 – as in the amount of points UA gave up during a loss at Auburn on Oct. 16.
Auburn put up that point total under the command of quarterback Cameron Newton, a 6-6, 250-pound quarterback who is equally adept at running the ball, with 1,409 yards and 20 touchdowns, and passing it – 28 more scores against only six interceptions. Those numbers – as well as a national championship game appearance and undefeated season – helped Newton win the Heisman Trophy.
That was an award that many expected to see Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the running for at the start of the season, but he still has many similarities to Newton. Pryor stands 6-6, 233 pounds, and has his own impressive numbers, including 639 rushing yards, a completion percentage of 65.8 and 29 total touchdowns.
The comparison between the two – in style and stature – isn't that hard to make, so it's fair to wonder if Pryor and the Buckeyes can post similar numbers tomorrow night in the Sugar Bowl.
"I think he's very similar to guys we've played before, especially Cam Newton," Arkansas defensive lineman Damario Ambrose said. "I feel like he deserves more credit than he gets sometimes because when you watch him on film, he can throw the ball just as good as he can run it. When he gets outside the pocket, you have to make sure you contain him because he can throw on the run.
"He's fast, if not just as fast as Cam Newton. We have to make sure we contain him."
Ambrose's fellow defensive end, Tenarius Wright, wasn't quite as complimentary.
"They run two different styles of offense, so I couldn't really go into (that comparison), but Cam Newton is one type of player that you've seen during the season take over a game. Terrelle Pryor, I'm not saying he couldn't do that, but he hasn't done it so far like Cam Newton does."
Certainly a gap of 19 touchdowns accounted for on the year between the two quarterbacks adds to Wright's contention, but he was correct in that the two operate different offenses.
Newton was charged with much more running of the football – including more option plays – in the Tigers' spread offense under hot coordinator Gus Mahlzan, who has been courted by a number of schools in the wake of his team's successful season.
That allowed Newton to both rack up the rushing yards, including 188 with three touchdowns against the Razorbacks. As a whole, Auburn had 330 yards rushing in that contest, but Newton threw only 14 times – completing 10 for 140 yards – in the win.
On the other hand, Pryor ran for only four rushing touchdowns on the season. His best rushing output was 113 yards and a score vs. Miami (Fla.), but he fell just short of having half as many rushes on the year as Newton while operating in Ohio State's pro-style attack.
Though the Buckeyes have mixed in a fair share of spread formations and option runs into some game plans to keep defenses honest, they haven't committed to that type of attack as much as Auburn. That led to Pryor telling the Chicago Tribune in December that he'd have posted numbers like Newton given the chance.
Still, Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson sees similarities in the way the team had to try to defend Newton in the running game and the way his squad will have to approach Pryor.
"I think more than anything else against Newton, you have to know how to tackle a big man," Robinson said. "It's not going to take one man to bring him down, so you're going to have to get several hats to this guy. When you're dealing with skill out there at that position, you have ot make sure you keep them contained, so you have to have an edge and you have to have a fill and you have to have a chase, OK, and we're trying to get several hats to this guy all the time."
While Arkansas will be focused on taking down Pryor when he does get loose, the Buckeyes are presented with the battle of whether it wants to add anything from the Auburn film into the offense.
Most observers expect the Buckeyes to stick with the balanced attack it used throughout the season, but the team also has a history of coming up with some tricks for big games.
"I don't think we've focused more on that (Auburn) film than other film," OSU wideout Dane Sanzenbacher said. "We're obviously looked at it, and we've been known to take little bits and pieces from other people that have played that team. But I think there's differences between us and Auburn. We're not running the same offense."
Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino just hopes the result isn't the same as when his team faced Newton and Auburn in October, but he can see the similarities between the two quarterbacks going into Tuesday night's game.
"They're both tremendous football players, great leaders and have a lot of success in knowing how to win games," Petrino said.