Pass the chips – It's Fiesta Time

The #3 Texas Longhorns (11-1) are headed to Arizona to face the #10 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2) in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Both schools enter the contest as two of the most storied programs in college football history. The Longhorns would clearly prefer to be playing in Miami, but the Fiesta Bowl presents a great opportunity to jumpstart next year's run at a national championship.

The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl will pit the Texas Longhorns and the Ohio State Buckeyes for a clash of the two of the most victorious programs in college football history. Texas is number two in all-time wins at 831 while Ohio State is number five with 807 wins.

Ohio State is led by true freshman quarterback Terrell Pryor, running back Chris "Beanie" Wells, and a solid defense which is yielding only 13.1 points per game. It is safe to say that the Buckeyes have not faced an offense that is as productive as the Longhorns. Texas is fifth in the country in scoring offense (43.92 points per game) and ninth in the country in yards per game (476).

The USC and Penn State offenses are the only offenses that can rival Texas' offense that the Buckeye defense has faced, and neither game ended in victory for the Buckeyes.

In the USC game, the defense was not up to the task. The Buckeyes gave up four offensive touchdowns through the air and lost 35-3. The Buckeyes, led by Bednarik and Lombardi awards finalist James Laurinaitis, did perform better at home against the then undefeated Nittany Lions, but lost a grueling game 13-6 where both teams were held under 290 yards of offense.

Ohio State has appeared in BCS Bowl games in four of the last five years, including back to back disappointing loses in the BCS Championship games to LSU and Florida. Prior to those two bowl games, Ohio State had won three straight bowl games.

Texas has won four consecutive bowl games, the Rose Bowl over Michigan, 38-37, the Rose Bowl over USC for the BCS National Championship, 41-38, the Alamo Bowl over Iowa, 26-24, and last year's Holiday Bowl over Arizona State, 52-34.

The last Fiesta Bowl trip for the Buckeyes was after the 2005 season when they beat Notre Dame 34-20. Texas' last Fiesta Bowl trip was after the 1996 season when #7 Penn State beat the #20 Texas Longhorns to the tune of 38-15.

Limus Sweed Leaping TD Grab in 2005
(AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
Texas and Ohio State have only played twice in their storied histories, and they split that home and home series in 2005 and 2006. This will be their first meeting in a bowl game.

The 2006 meeting in Austin was the first regular season 1-2 matchup in over ten years. Future Heisman trophy winner Troy Smith led the Buckeyes over redshirt freshman Colt McCoy by throwing for 269 yards and two touchdowns. The 24-7 defeat ended the Longhorns' 21-game winning streak which included a BCS national championship.

The 2005 clash in Columbus, Ohio was a top five primetime tilt that included a 24-yard leaping touchdown catch by Limus Sweed to give the Longhorns the lead with 2:37 left in the game. A late safety by the Longhorn defense on a sack of Troy Smith by linebacker Aaron Harris pushed the final margin to 25-22. The early non-conference win cemented the Longhorns as the #2 team in the country for the remainder of the regular season which set up the historic Rose Bowl with the USC Trojans, when the Texas Longhorns won their first national championship in 35 years.

The 38th Annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl will kickoff on Monday, January 5, 2009 in University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona at 5:30 Mountain time.

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