Buckeyes Excited About Alamo Bowl Bid

We have comments from Alamo Bowl officials on why they selected Ohio State as well as comments from Jim Tressel, Andy Geiger and co-captains Mike Nugent and Simon Fraser on OSU's selection to represent the Big Ten at the Alamo Bowl Dec. 29.

Following its win over Michigan on Saturday, Ohio State officially accepted an invitation to play in the 2004 MasterCard Alamo Bowl, set for 8 p.m. Wed., Dec. 29, in San Antonio's 65,000-seat Alamodome. ESPN will have national coverage of the game, which will pit OSU (7-4) against a Big 12 opponent.

"On behalf of all of us here at The Ohio State University, we are so excited to be heading to the Alamo Bowl," OSU coach Jim Tressel said via telephone as he was en route to Cleveland for an alumni function. "San Antonio is one of the great cities in our country and I know our kids are looking forward to it.

"I have heard so many great things about the MasterCard Alamo Bowl and its surrounding activities. Our players are honored to be invited and we look forward to a great week in San Antonio and facing the challenge of our Big 12 opponent. We just can't wait to get to San Antonio. We have a lot of great friends and a lot of great alums in Texas. We're looking forward to filling up that Alamodome."

This will be OSU's 36th bowl appearance but its first at the Alamo Bowl.

Alamo Bowl officials will await the outcome of this weekend's four Big 12 match-ups and possibly also the conference championship game Dec. 4 between Oklahoma and Iowa State before making a selection from that conference.

"No decision has been made on the Big 12 team," said Alamo Bowl president Derrick Fox. "The realistic pool of teams could include Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Two other teams that could end up here as well might be Iowa State and Texas, if they aren't chosen for the BCS."

Tressel intoned, "Those all sound pretty tough to me."

The Big Ten has sent teams to the Alamo Bowl for the last nine years. Alamo Bowl officials discussed why they chose OSU over Purdue. The two teams had identical 7-4 records and Purdue just defeated OSU 24-17 nine days ago. But the Boilermakers have already made two previous trips to San Antonio.

"We were very impressed with the way Ohio State was able to win against Michigan," said Alamo Bowl chairman Jack Rogers. "They have shown continual improvement the last few weeks. They have an extremely exciting offense with Troy Smith and Ted Ginn. It should just be an outstanding football game.

"On top of that, we have never had Ohio State here before. They are a longtime football powerhouse and we look forward to them showing off in San Antonio. After their impressive win against Michigan which gave them four victories in their last five games, we anticipate that the Riverwalk will be a sea of scarlet with the legions of Buckeye fans."

Tressel agreed that the Buckeyes will be looking forward to something different.

"It's exciting especially because the Alamo Bowl will be a new experience," Tressel said.

The coach said he was proud of the way his team rallied from a three-game losing streak at midseason by going 4-1 over the last five games.

"There was a moment in the season where we were just worried about getting a first down, let alone worrying about getting into a bowl game," Tressel said. "This has been the culmination of a lot of hard work.

"I'm sure our fans will be looking forward into getting down to San Antonio. We are very fortunate, very blessed and we are going to have a very nice Thanksgiving."

Tressel indicated that the team may briefly resume practice next week, the final week of autumn quarter classes. Then, after exams are done, the most intensive practice will begin Dec. 9. The team will then leave for San Antonio on Dec. 22.

"I know our guys will want to get down to that warm weather as fast as we can," Tressel said.

During Tressel's four-year tenure at Ohio State, he has led the Buckeyes to a 39-11 record (including a 15-5 record against top 25 teams and 6-1 against top 10 teams) and four bowl appearances: 2002 Outback Bowl, 2003 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, 2004 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and 2004 MasterCard Alamo Bowl.

"The Ohio State University and its players and coaches are excited to accept the invitation to participate in the MasterCard Alamo Bowl." Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger said. "San Antonio is a beautiful city and has been a tremendous host for the NCAA Final Fours.

"We are delighted. We are thrilled. We look forward to thousands of Buckeyes coming to the Riverwalk and enjoying what San Antonio has to offer."

Bowl applications will be sent to Ohio State season ticket holders on Wednesday and must be returned by Monday, Dec. 6. Ohio State has 10,800 tickets. If tickets remain after the Dec. 6 deadline, remaining tickets will go on sale to the public. Ohio State has reserved 1,500 student tickets.

This year's game will be the 12th installment 2004 MasterCard Alamo Bowl. Since 1995, the game has matched the Big Ten and the Big 12 Conferences. The Big Ten has a 6-3 edge in those games.

The Players' Take

After spending the last two years at the Fiesta Bowl, the Buckeyes are ready for a change of scenery.

"We're really excited," said defensive end and co-captain Simon Fraser. "To be able to represent our school down in San Antonio and to be able to play one more game this season, we're really excited. From what we've heard, it's a fantastic bowl. We haven't been to Texas before. It will be neat for us to go down there and have some fun.

"Dustin Fox's older brother (Derek) was there when Penn State played in the Alamo Bowl in 1999. He said they had a fantastic time. I think Dustin was pulling for that a little bit because he had good memories from that time."

Fraser was asked about being away from home on Christmas day.

"That just comes with the territory," he said. "Four years ago when we went down to the Alamo Bowl, we went down before Christmas, so it's nothing new to us. It's something we haven't done the last few years."

Fraser believes the Buckeyes will have plenty of fan support.

"We know the way our fans are and the way they travel," he said. "They'll be selling out tickets for our fans and probably asking the other team for some of theirs. Our fan support is so much and they've been such a big help. They love the Ohio State team."

Fraser discussed how the Buckeyes turned their season back around with their 4-1 finish.

"We really got ourselves focused," he said. "A lot of the guys now understand what it takes to handle the pressure and adversity of a tough season like this. Hopefully, the guys coming back next year will be able to take what we learned this year and apply it to next season."

OSU kicker Mike Nugent, also a co-captain, was also excited to learn that OSU would be headed to the Alamo Bowl.

"We've heard how exciting the environment is down there and I know everyone will have a great time," he said. "Hopefully, our win over Michigan will get people more excited about the postseason for us.

"When we met yesterday, Coach Tressel told us we didn't know where we would be but he said this is one bowl he would love to go to. He had heard so many great things about it."

It was a good day for Nugent, who learned he is once again a finalist for the Lou Groza Award and also a first-team All-Big Ten pick for the first time.

"It's one of those things I'd love to receive at this point," Nugent said of the Groza. "Our regular season is over now. It's one of those things you can look forward to. I am really excited to get to go back down to West Palm Beach and go to the Groza Award event."

And as for earning All-Big Ten honors: "Hopefully I gave them a reason to vote for me," Nugent said.

Bowls Set

Here is a release from the Big Ten on its teams' bowl bids this year:

The Big Ten office announced the bowl destinations for five Conference football programs today as Michigan will take part in the Rose Bowl, Iowa will participate in the Capital One Bowl, Wisconsin will play in the Outback Bowl, Ohio State will travel to the Alamo Bowl and Purdue will compete in the Sun Bowl.

For the 12th straight year and 19th time overall, the Big Ten will send five or more teams to postseason play. In the 10 years prior to this season, Conference teams made 64 bowl appearances, including a League-record eight bowl participants in 2003. Overall, Big Ten institutions have made 206 bowl appearances entering the 2004 campaign -- the third-highest total of all Division I-A conferences.

Michigan (9-2 overall, 7-1 Big Ten) returns to the Rose Bowl for the second straight season for the first time since the 1991-92 campaigns, as the Big Ten Co-Champions will face an opponent to be determined on January 1 at 5 p.m. EST in Pasadena, California. The Wolverines earned a share of the 2004 Big Ten title and claimed the League's Bowl Championship Series automatic bid based on a victory over Iowa. Michigan will be making its 19th appearance in the "granddaddy of all bowl games" and will be playing in a New Year's Day bowl for the ninth straight year. The program will take part in a bowl game for the 30th straight season, which currently ranks second for consecutive bowl appearances behind Nebraska's 35 straight postseason bids entering the 2004 campaign. The Wolverines are 18-17 overall in bowl games, including five wins in the last seven trips, and 8-10 in Pasadena. The Big Ten and Pac-10 have squared off 58 times in the Rose Bowl with each conference coming away with 29 victories, although the Big Ten boasts four wins in its last six appearances.

Co-Big Ten Champion Iowa (9-2, 7-1) has accepted a bid to the Capital One Bowl for the first time in program history as the squad will battle an SEC opponent on January 1 at 1 p.m. EST in Orlando, Florida. The Hawkeyes clinched their fourth straight bowl excursion under Big Ten Coach of the Year Kirk Ferentz for the first time since appearing in eight straight postseason events from 1981-88. Iowa has played in 19 bowl games all-time, building a record of 10-8-1, including a victory over Florida in last season's Outback Bowl. The Big Ten has produced a 6-8 record in the Capital One Bowl, including a narrow 34-27 overtime loss by Purdue last season.

Wisconsin (9-2, 6-2) will be making its first trip to the Outback Bowl since 1997 as the Badgers will take on a team from the SEC on January 1 at 11 a.m. EST in Tampa Bay, Florida. Wisconsin has played in 15 bowl games, including 10 of the last 12 years under the guidance of head coach Barry Alvarez, who has won four of his last five postseason games and holds a 7-2 record in bowl action. Big Ten squads maintain a 7-8 mark in the Outback Bowl, including two straight victories by Iowa in 2003 and Michigan in 2002 and a 1-1 tally for the Badgers.

Ohio State (7-4, 4-4) will be making its first appearance in San Antonio, Texas, for the Alamo Bowl as the team will square off against a Big 12 representative on December 29 at 8 p.m. EST. The Buckeyes are making their fifth consecutive bowl excursion, including four straight under head coach Jim Tressel, as OSU picked up wins in the last two Fiesta Bowls. Ohio State will be playing in its 36th bowl, which is tied with Michigan for the League lead, and holds a 16-19 record in postseason play. The Big Ten boasts an all-time 6-4 ledger in the Alamo Bowl, including triumphs in six of the last eight games.

Purdue (7-4, 4-4) will take part in the Sun Bowl for the third time in the last four seasons, as the program will battle a Pac-10 foe on December 31 at 2 p.m. EST in El Paso, Texas. The Boilermakers have earned an eighth consecutive postseason bid for the first time in school history, as head coach Joe Tiller has led his squad to a bowl game in each of his eight years on campus. Purdue is 7-5 all-time in bowls, including splitting a pair of Sun Bowls with a win over Washington in 2002 and a loss to Washington State in 2001. Big Ten teams are 5-5 overall in the Sun Bowl.

Minnesota (6-5, 3-5) is also bowl eligible. Big Ten participation in the Music City Bowl and the Motor City Bowl will not be determined until after the results of Saturday's game between Northwestern (6-5, 5-3) and Hawaii in Honolulu are known.

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