Buckeyes Discuss Oklahoma State Challenge

We have coments from Jim Tressel, Simon Fraser and Troy Smith on OSU's Alamo Bowl opponent, Oklahoma State. Plus, we take a look at the Cowboys. The game is set for Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

Every year there seems to be drama with the Bowl Championship Series. Last year, Ohio State seemed headed to a rematch with Miami (Fla.) in the Orange Bowl. But when the parings were announced, OSU instead was shuffled off to the Fiesta Bowl to face Kansas State.

This year, it seemed that Cal would fill one of the two at-large berths in the BCS with unbeaten Utah taking the other. But when Texas moved by Cal into fourth place in the BCS standings – and accordingly assuring itself an at-large bid – the dominos began to fall.

Texas replaced Cal against Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Then, the Big 12's bowl ladder changed as the Cotton selected Texas A&M and the Holiday got dibs on Texas Tech.

That left the Alamo Bowl to select Oklahoma State to face Ohio State in its game. This match-up of 7-4 teams will be played Wed., Dec. 29, at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

OSU coach Jim Tressel met with the media to discuss his team's Alamo Bowl opponent.

"We thought it would be Texas Tech or Oklahoma State," Tressel said. "It was a little bit according to what trickled down from the BCS situation. I guess Texas ended up getting in the BCS, which is great for them. We knew it would be one or the other.

"Oklahoma State is a very physical team, coached by an Ohio guy (Les Miles). It will be a great challenge."

The Cowboys ran the ball 77 percent of the time this season.

"Everyone we've talked to in the Big 12 and that has played them says they are very physical and they have great athletes," Tressel said. "They get after it. I'm sure it will be the opposite end of the spectrum from what Texas Tech's attack would have been."

Tressel was asked for what he knows about Miles.

"I've known Coach Miles for a lot of years," Tressel said. "He is an Ohio guy who coached at Michigan for a while. He'll have some built in feel for Ohio State. I have admired the job he's done since he's been at Oklahoma State. It seems like every year they get a little bit better. Every year, they seem to do something that gives them a chance to take another step."

OSU quarterback Troy Smith said he recalls watching Oklahoma State on television earlier this year.

"I know it's a worthy opponent," Smith said. "I know they're going to be up for the challenge and so are we. Just getting a chance to go out and play a game and rekindle the fire we had against Michigan, we want to end this season on a positive note."

Defensive end Simon Fraser said he was glad to finally have an opponent to prepare for.

"We were preparing for both (OSU and Texas Tech)," he said. "Now it brings the story to a different aspect because now we know who we're playing. It's real difficult to go to practice and not know who we're preparing for."

Fraser said the Buckeyes must prepare for the challenge of facing OSU back Vernand Morency, who rushed for 1,454 yards and scored 12 touchdowns this year.

"We know there will be a challenge in front of us," he said.

Also Notable

* OSU kicker Mike Nugent, named the team MVP earlier Sunday, will learn if he is selected as the Lou Groza Award winner at a function Tuesday night. He will also participate in the College Football Awards Show Thursday.

* Tressel discussed his team's schedule for the rest of the week.

"We're going to be in final exams, so through Wednesday it will be very little other than some running and lifting," said Tressel, who will head to San Antonio Thursday for a media event. "Then on Thursday, we'll get back after it a little bit."

Charting Oklahoma State

Here is quick look at Ohio State's Alamo Bowl opponent, Oklahoma State:

2004 Record: 7-4 overall; 4-4 Big 12 South.

Coach: Les Miles (fourth year at OSU, 28-20).

Notable Wins: at UCLA, W 31-20; Iowa State, W 36-7; at Colorado, W 42-14.

Notable Losses: Texas A&M, L 36-20; Oklahoma, L 38-35; at Texas, L 56-35; at Texas Tech, L 31-15.

Offensive Threats: #33 RB Vernand Morency, 250 rushes for 1,454 yards and 12 TD's. #8 QB Donovan Woods, rushed for 10 TDs, also completed 82 of his 153 passes good for 1,491 yards, 4 interceptions and 13 TDs. #84 WR D' Juan Woods, 29 receptions for 650 yards and 6 touchdowns. #11 WR Prentiss Elliot, 17 receptions for 295 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Defensive Threats: 3 Players with 2 interceptions: #12 LB Paul Duren, #20 DB Vernon Grant and #23 Jamie Thompson. #9 DB Darrent Williams-9 punt returns for 249 yards and a touchdown.

Team Totals: Offense: Rushing, 245.0 yards per game (ninth nationally); passing, 144.1 ypg (111th); total offense, 389.1 ypg (46th); scoring offense, 34.6 points per game (15th). Defense: Rushing, 170.2 ypg (72nd); passing, 225.5 ypg (75th); total defense, 395.6 ypg (74th); scoring defense, 24.4 ppg (50th).

All-Time Vs. Ohio State: Ohio State is 1-0 with a 37-13 win in 1989.

Last Year's Bowl: Lost to Mississippi 31-28 in the Cotton Bowl.

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