Drew Thurman (10:40 pm)
The matchup that may have more significance than any other in the Fiesta Bowl is the Buckeye offensive line versus the Longhorn defensive line. It seems that Buckeyes will have to put up a large amount of points in this game, but if the offensive line under performs, a Beanie breakaway could be the only big plays coming from Ohio State. They have to protect Pryor in this game, and hopefully this will be the spark needed for what has been a less than stellar passing attack this season. The task will not be easy though!
Texas brings a very quick and hungry starting defensive line to Glendale, that helped provide 21 of the 44 sacks the Longhorns defense had on the year. Maybe even more impressive is the fact that these four have combined for 39 tackles for loss.
Needless to say, they pursue the quarterback well and break up slow developing plays. They also have helped provide great success for the Longhorn linebacking core, which may be the strength of their defense. The Buckeye offensive line needs to challenge the defensive tackles, and make the linebackers fight through blocks to make tackles on Beanie and Pryor. Like I said, this matchup is crucial, and one that Buckeyes have to pull in their favor. So, let's take a look at the young men that make up the Longhorn defensive line:
DE Henry Melton - Melton actually started his career at Texas in the backfield, and has slowly made the transition to defensive end. This is his first year starting for the Longhorns, and is listed at 6'3'' 260 pounds. His statistics on the year are pretty average for a defensive end, posting 26 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and four sacks.
DT Aaron Lewis - Lewis is listed as one of the starters at defensive tackle, but has made very little impact on the season. The 6'4'' 270 senior has only eight tackles, three tackles for loss, and one and half sacks.
DT Roy Miller - Miller is the star defensive tackle for the Longhorns. He is yet another senior on the defensive line, and has great size at 6'2'' 295 pounds. His statistics are impressive for a tackle with 46 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and four and half sacks. He is also a freak in the weight room benching 500 pounds and squating 625 pounds.
DE Brian Orakpo - There is not a single player on the Longhorn defense that probably deserves more respect than Orakpo. He, like Roy Miller, is a beast in the weight room, and it has transfered to the field. On the season he has 40 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and 10.5 sacks. Whoever is matched up against this 6'4'' 260 pound senior, whether Boone or Browning, has their hands full in this game.
Also to note: DT Lamarr Houston (20 tackles, 7 TFL, and 1.5 sacks)