Rose Bowl Keys, Prediction and Open Thread

You’ll have to excuse me for not finishing with the linebackers and defensive backs. I decided I wanted to actually spend time with friends and family over winter break instead of just writing about Oregon football. Crazy, right?
And I’m writing this from my girlfriend’s cousin’s living room. Lucky for me, no one is up yet.
If you’ve been reading my position analyses so far, then you have a pretty good idea of what I expect to happen. But there are a few keys things that need to happen for the Ducks to get their first Rose Bowl victory in 15 years.
Big Game Masoli: So far, Jeremiah Masoli has been at his best when the pressure is on – both Civil Wars, the Holiday Bowl, USC, Arizona, etc – but this is by far the biggest of them all (hence, the Rose Bowl nickname).
This is the toughest defense Masoli will have faced in his career, especially with Ohio State’s prowess stopping the run.  The all-conference quarterback needs to get Ed Dickson involved early, speed up the tempo, and keep the Buckeyes defense guessing.
Just a heads up Ohio State fans, Masoli is a little better than Tate Forcier.
Get to Pryor’s Head, and Knee: Terrelle Pryor has had problems keeping his composure this season, even visibly yelling at teammates on the field during the Purdue game. With the news of Pryor’s partially torn PCL, I’m pretty sure I can guess how Nick Aliotti is going to start the game – pressure, pressure and more pressure.
The Ducks need to make Pryor feel uncomfortable, and if the former top recruit starts worrying about his knee more than finding the open receiver downfield, that spells disaster for the Buckeyes.
The 400,000 Duck fans that came down to Pasadena should help too.
Speed Racer: Ohio State has never seen an offense that plays at this fast of a tempo before. They’ve had over a month to prepare, but how will they be able to react on the field with the Ducks no huddle spread?
I feel Ohio State will keep up at first, but Masoli, LaMichael James and company will tire out the bigger, slower Buckeyes. If that happens, this game is over.
Recent Bowl History: How you do in a bowl game is based much more on motivation and desire than actual talent. Like we’ve seen so much this season, the better team often lets down because they think they should be in a better game and have nothing to gain by beating a weaker opponent.
Oregon State went from the Rose Bowl to the MAACO Bowl and got run over, Boise State beat Alabama last year because the Tide went from the championship game to playing a mid-major.
Ohio State is used to playing Texas, USC or an SEC power, will they get up for little ol’ Oregon the same way as the others? (Not that they did well against the others)
Prediction: Let’s just say, if by some chance I woke up and found $500 in my pocket tomorrow, I would parley all of it on Oregon and the over.
Oregon’s tempo wins out and runs away from Ohio State in the end.
Final: Oregon 38, Ohio State 23.
I want to make this a pre-game open thread. What are your thoughts? (Crazy Buckeye fans too)
It's easy: rattle Pryor, win the game.

It's easy: rattle Pryor, win the game.

You’ll have to excuse me for not finishing with the linebackers and defensive backs. I decided I wanted to actually spend time with friends and family over winter break instead of just writing about Oregon football. Crazy, right?

And I’m writing this from my girlfriend’s cousin’s living room. Lucky for me, no one is up yet.

If you’ve been reading my position analyses so far, then you have a pretty good idea of what I expect to happen. But there are a few keys things that need to happen for the Ducks to get their first Rose Bowl victory in 93 years.

Big Game Masoli: So far, Jeremiah Masoli has been at his best when the pressure is on – both Civil Wars, the Holiday Bowl, USC, Arizona, etc – but this is by far the biggest of them all (hence, the Rose Bowl nickname).

This is the toughest defense Masoli will have faced in his career, especially with Ohio State’s prowess stopping the run.  The all-conference quarterback needs to get Ed Dickson involved early, speed up the tempo, and keep the Buckeyes defense guessing.

Just a heads up Ohio State fans, Masoli is a little better than Tate Forcier.

Get to Pryor’s Head, and Knee: Terrelle Pryor has had problems keeping his composure this season, even visibly yelling at teammates on the field during the Purdue game. With the news of Pryor’s partially torn PCL, I’m pretty sure I can guess how Nick Aliotti is going to start the game – pressure, pressure and more pressure.

The Ducks need to make Pryor feel uncomfortable, and if the former top recruit starts worrying about his knee more than finding the open receiver downfield, that spells disaster for the Buckeyes.

The 400,000 Duck fans that came down to Pasadena should help too.

Speed Racer: Ohio State has never seen an offense that plays at this fast of a tempo before. They’ve had over a month to prepare, but how will they be able to react on the field with the Ducks no huddle spread?

I feel Ohio State will keep up at first, but Masoli, LaMichael James and company will tire out the bigger, slower Buckeyes. If that happens, this game is over.

Recent Bowl History: How you do in a bowl game is based much more on motivation and desire than actual talent. Like we’ve seen so much this season, the better team often lets down because they think they should be in a better game and have nothing to gain by beating a weaker opponent.

Oregon State went from the Rose Bowl to the MAACO Bowl and got run over, Utah beat Alabama last year because the Tide went from the championship game to playing a mid-major.

ESPN’s Ted Miller mentioned that Ohio State is used to playing Texas, USC or an SEC power, will they get up for little ol’ Oregon the same way as the others? (Not that they did well against the others)

Prediction: Let’s just say, if by some chance I woke up and found $500 in my pocket tomorrow, I would parley all of it on Oregon and the over. (Ducks by 3 1/2, over/under 50 1/2)

Oregon’s tempo wins out and runs away from Ohio State in the end.

Final: Oregon 38, Ohio State 23.

I want to make this a pre-game open thread. What are your thoughts? (Crazy Buckeye fans too)

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Breaking Down the Rose Bowl: Battle of the Defensive Lines

How about a bad pun: Sean Canfield looks like he just met a Brandon "Bear" in a secluded forest.

I need to think of a good Brandon Bair "bear" pun. Give me a minute, I'll get one.

Continuing with position breakdowns, today I’ll go over the defensive lines. If you missed yesterday’s, you can read about the offensive line here.

Ohio State fans got passionately heated when the totals from the offensive side of the ball came out to Oregon 41.5, Ohio State 35.

Really?

Was this a surprise to you?

The Buckeyes averaged almost nine points per game fewer than the Ducks, and that’s without factoring in strength of schedule (Oregon #4, tOSU #59).

USC looked like a tough team at the time, so I’ll give them credit for that one, but Navy, Toledo, and New Mexico State? I’m surprised they couldn’t find a way to squeeze a junior college onto their schedule as well.

And I’m not even counting Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota or Michigan.

So for them to only come out six and a half points behind the Ducks on offense, I think is generous. Honestly, I’m surprised it wasn’t by more.

But be that as it may, tOSU has a chance to gain some ground on the defensive side of the ball, where the numbers say they are much better.

Here is the Buckeyes first chance: the defensive line.

Before the season, defensive line coach Jim Heacock said this year’s group was his best since 2003. No small statement, considering that line had four future NFL players (Will Smith, Simon Fraser, Darrion Scott and Tim Anderson. For those of you counting at home, that’s a first rounder, two third rounders, and an undrafted free agent).

Not too shabby.

On paper, this year’s defense put up better overall numbers than the 2003 contingent, at least points and yardage-wise, but you have to take that with a grain of salt, as Big Ten offenses were much more prolific back in the day.

Like Heacock said before the season to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, he didn’t think this line “would” dominate. He said it “needs to” dominate.

And he’s dead on. If Ohio State has any chance of winning this game, they will need to disrupt the Oregon offense.

But lucky for them, if there’s a team that could do it, it might as well be the Buckeyes.

With eight guys in the defensive line rotation, Ohio State has the depth to keep up their aggressive style of play against the fast-paced Oregon offense for more than just the first half.

As the AP wrote, Thaddeus Gibson and Heyward, the son of the late former NFL running back Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, have been outstanding as rush ends. Todd Denlinger and Doug Worthington are the starting tackles, with substantial contributions from Nathan Williams, Lawrence Wilson, Dexter Larimore and others.

Asked how good the down linemen have been, safety Kurt Coleman grinned.

“Oh, my goodness. The front four, or front eight—how many ever they rotate in—they’re absolutely unreal,” he said. “It’s made my life back there so much easier.”

Pundits are saying that the only way the Buckeyes can disrupt Jeremiah Masoli and Co. is to bring constant pressure, but that plays right into Oregon’s strength as a spread-option team. The more aggressive tOSU plays, the more opportunities Masoli and Lamichael James have to beat them.

Since the Utah game, LMJ has rushed for less than 100 yards just once (88 in only 13 carries against WSU) and over 150 yards six times.

On the contrary, the Buckeyes haven’t allowed a lone rusher to reach the century mark in a single game this season.

This matchup will go a long way in deciding which teams’ fans leave happy on New Year’s Day.

For as many headlines as the Oregon offense vs. the Ohio State defense has grabbed, I think the real story will be Oregon’s defense against tOSU’s offense.

The Duck defense has actually been a strong point this year, and more importantly, it matches up well with the Buckeye offense.

Oregon has done a great job stopping the run this season, giving up just 3.4 ypc to opponents, despite the Toby Gerhart spectacular, which I have been vehemently trying to forget since November.

The defensive backfield however, has been plagued by injuries to Walter Thurmond and Willie Glasper, leaving Talmadge “why do I keep getting these P.I. calls” Jackson as the lone veteran to freshmen Cliff Harris and John Boyett.

Fortunately, 6-7 Brandon Bair has emerged as a clog in the middle, while Kenny Rowe and Will Tukuafu have brought excellent pressure from the outside all season.

If Oregon can stuff eight men in the box and eliminate the run, forcing Terrelle Pryor to play like Vince Young (something I, and Jim Tressel are not sure he can do), Oregon should come out victorious.

On paper, the Buckeyes look golden, but in the national college football landscape, Big Ten paper isn’t worth nearly as much Pac-10 paper.

At least for the moment.

Rating: Ohio State 9, Oregon 7.5.

Totals: Oregon 49, Ohio State 44.

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My Oregon Ducks Christmas Wish List

1. For Oregon Baseball to Take the Next Step: It’s no coincidence that my two favorite teams both wear green and yellow (gold). George Horton (and Phil Knight) have this team headed in the right direction.
2. For Ernie Kent to be Fired and be Replaced by Mark Few: Wouldn’t it be nice to actually have a half-court offense?
3. To Sign the Recruit With the Best Name in the Country: Lache Seastrunk. Oh, and he’s a little more than just a name. Hats off to the Oregon coaches for a hell of a recruiting season so far.
4. For Oregon State to Pick a New Favorite Song: For their sake. Even I’m getting tired of the Miley jokes.
5. A Better Rain Jacket: Come on, it rains a lot in Eugene. A hoody and two-year old vans with bigger holes than the Washington State pass defense will only take you so far in a freezing rain storm.
6. Attend at Least One Track & Field Event This Year: I have completely taken them for granted. How often do you have one of the most successful teams in the country in your backyard and not watch them a single time? Plus, girls running around in spandex. Everybody wins.
7. To Go on a Date With Amanda Pflugrad: If I could ever pull that off, I would accept whatever consequences my girlfriend would bestow upon me. Amanda is on “the list”.
8. The iPhone 3GS: Speaking of my girlfriend, she has been hinting (what’s a stronger word than hinting?) that she has gotten me one for three days now. If she didn’t actually get it, that would be just cruel.
9. A Strong Finish for the Pac-10 this Bowl Season: Just so I don’t have to hear those illiterate, barefoot, double negative-speaking SEC fans talk about much better they are than the Pac-10 (play someone not named Charleston Southern or Southeastern Louisiana and we can talk). And also, so that when Oregon beats Tennessee in Knoxville next season, it’ll give the Ducks a little more street cred.
10. A Rose Bowl Win: Enough said.
What’s are your Christmas list?
How cute is this?

1. For Oregon Baseball to Take the Next Step: It’s no coincidence that my two favorite teams both wear green and yellow (gold). George Horton (and Phil Knight) have this team headed in the right direction.

2. For Ernie Kent to be Fired and be Replaced by Mark Few: Wouldn’t it be nice to actually have a half-court offense?

3. To Sign the Recruit With the Best Name in the Country: Lache Seastrunk. Oh, and he’s a little more than just a name. Hats off to the Oregon coaches for a hell of a recruiting season so far.

4. For Oregon State to Pick a New Favorite Song: For their sake. Even I’m getting tired of the Miley jokes.

5. A Better Rain Jacket: Come on, it rains a lot in Eugene. A hoody and two-year old vans with bigger holes than the Washington State pass defense will only take you so far in a freezing rain storm.

6. Attend at Least One Track & Field Event This Year: I have completely taken them for granted. How often do you have one of the most successful teams in the country in your backyard and not watch them a single time? Plus, girls running around in spandex. Everybody wins.

7. To Go on a Date With Amanda Pflugrad: If I could ever pull that off, I would gladly accept any and all consequences from my girlfriend. Amanda is on “the list”.

8. The iPhone 3GS: Speaking of my girlfriend, she has been hinting (what’s a stronger word than hinting?) that she has gotten me one for three days now. If she didn’t actually get it, that would be just cruel.

9. A Strong Finish for the Pac-10 this Bowl Season: Just so I don’t have to hear those illiterate, barefoot, double negative-speaking SEC fans talk about much better they are than the Pac-10 (play someone not named Charleston Southern or Southeastern Louisiana and we can talk). And also, so that when Oregon beats Tennessee in Knoxville next season, it’ll give the Ducks a little more street cred.

10. A Rose Bowl Win: Enough said.

What’s on your Christmas list?

If you’ve read this far, visit my new store for UO Sports Dude merchandise and you can follow me on twitter or fan me on facebook.

Breaking Down the Rose Bowl: Battle of the Offensive Lines

Analyzing skill positions is easy. Those guys hog the cameras, do flashy celebration dances and attract the affection of all the coeds (and sometimes even faculty) on campus.
Everyone knows about them.
But the guys who go unnoticed, the guys who allow for the skill players to do what they do, those are the guys in the trenches. Those are the guys who win games.
They may not be the sexiest or most attractive, they might even have unsightly facial hair or excessive back hair, you would probably even let own a loud grown if you were forced to sit between them on a cross-country flight, but dammit, they win games.
How often do you hear someone say, “Dad, all I want for Christmas is a game-worn Jordan Holmes jersey.”
Welcome to the life of an offensive lineman.
I don’t like that. No, not because I feel bad for them, but because now I have to do actual research in evaluating which team boasts the better collection of 300+ pound beasts.
And there is nothing lazier than a college student on winter break. Trust me.
But I toughed it out. I’m sure you will thank me later.
Coming into the season, Scout.com ranked both Ohio State and Oregon among the best in the country, with the Buckeyes at 11 and the Ducks at 16, respectively.
Up until last year, tOSU was known for its physical, unimaginative, run the ball down your throat style of play. Just push your guy harder than he pushed you – offensive lineman loved it.
But once Jim Tressel decided to change to the spread-option for Terrelle Pryor, it’s taken a while for everyone to get on the same page.
You can’t expect to completely change your style of play and have it work right away. You have to recruit different players and coaches have to learn what they’re doing. (You’ve almost got it Jimmy, just keep watching the film)
Look at Michigan, they were trying to run the spread with Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan. At least Ohio State had Pryor.
If you look deeper, the Buckeyes have fallen all the way from second in the Big Ten in yards per game in 2006 all the way to eighth in both 2008 and 2009.
You can’t teach agility to those big, hulking farm boys over night.
Oregon, meanwhile, is all speed, even on the line.
Only one Duck checks in at over 300 pounds, while all five of the Buckeyes tip the scale.
After losing two starters to the draft and two to graduation last season, it took Oregon all three non-conference games for the newbies to get into rhythm.
Jeremiah Masoli was sacked five times in the first three games and just three times since then.
As well as protecting Masoli, the line has opened endless holes for running back LaMichael James, who leads the nation in yards per carry at a tick under seven.
Bo Thran and Jordan Holmes have admirably replaced Max Unger and Fenuki Tupou, while C.E. Kaiser, Mark Asper and freshman Carson York fill out the rest of the line.
If Thran and Co. can give Masoli time in the pocket and open lanes for LMJ, this game is as good as over. If Oregon can make it a shootout, Ohio State doesn’t stand a chance.
Since total offensive production is the easiest way to evaluate the position, I have to give Oregon the edge.
Rating:
Oregon 8, Ohio State 7.
Total: Oregon 41.5, Ohio State 35.
How could the ladies ever say no to these guys?

How could the ladies ever say no to these guys?

Continuing with position breakdowns, today I’ll go over the offensive lines. If you missed yesterday’s, you can read about the tight ends here.

Analyzing skill positions is easy. Those guys hog the cameras, do flashy celebration dances and attract the affection of all the coeds (and sometimes even faculty) on campus.

Everyone knows about them.

But the guys who go unnoticed, the guys who allow for the skill players to do what they do, those are the guys in the trenches. Those are the guys who win games.

They may not be the sexiest or most attractive, they might even have unsightly facial hair or excessive back hair, you would probably even let own a loud grown if you were forced to sit between them on a cross-country flight, but dammit, they win games.

How often do you hear someone say, “Dad, all I want for Christmas is a game-worn Jordan Holmes jersey.”

Welcome to the life of an offensive lineman.

I don’t like that. No, not because I feel bad for them, but because now I have to do actual research in evaluating which team boasts the better collection of 300+ pound beasts.

And there is nothing lazier than a college student on winter break. Trust me.

But I toughed it out. I’m sure you will thank me later.

Coming into the season, Scout.com ranked both Ohio State and Oregon among the best in the country, with the Buckeyes at 11 and the Ducks at 16.

Up until last year, tOSU was known for its physical, unimaginative, run the ball down your throat style of play. Just push your guy harder than he pushed you – offensive lineman loved it.

But once Jim Tressel decided to change to the spread-option for Terrelle Pryor, it’s taken a while for everyone to get on the same page.

You can’t expect to completely change your style of play and have it work right away. You have to recruit different players and coaches have to learn what they’re doing. (You’ve almost got it Jimmy, just keep watching the film)

Look at Michigan, they were trying to run the spread with Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan. At least Ohio State had Pryor.

If you look deeper, the Buckeyes have fallen all the way from second in the Big Ten in yards per game in 2006 all the way to eighth in both 2008 and 2009.

You can’t teach agility to those big, hulking farm boys over night.

Oregon, meanwhile, is all speed, even on the line.

Only one Duck checks in at over 300 pounds, while all five of the Buckeyes tip the scale.

After losing two starters to the draft and two to graduation last season, it took Oregon all three non-conference games for the newbies to get into rhythm.

Jeremiah Masoli was sacked five times in the first three games and just three times since then.

As well as protecting Masoli, the line has opened endless holes for running back LaMichael James, who leads the nation in yards per carry at a tick under seven.

Bo Thran and Jordan Holmes have admirably replaced Max Unger and Fenuki Tupou, while C.E. Kaiser, Mark Asper and freshman Carson York fill out the rest of the line.

If Thran and Co. can give Masoli time in the pocket and open lanes for LMJ, this game is as good as over. Oregon wants to make it a shootout, and if they can, Ohio State doesn’t stand a chance.

Since total offensive production is the easiest way to evaluate the position, I have to give Oregon the edge.

Rating:

Oregon 8, Ohio State 7.

Total: Oregon 41.5, Ohio State 35.

Shameless Plugs:

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Breaking Down the Rose Bowl: Battle of the TEs

Continuing with position breakdowns, today I’ll go over the tight ends. If you missed yesterday’s, you can read about the wide receivers here.

That catch still gives me the jitters. Wow. Silly Arizona students on the field behind Dickson makes this even sweeter.

That catch still gives me the jitters. Wow. Silly Arizona students on the field behind Dickson makes this even sweeter.

Every fall, stories in Columbus start sprouting about how Jim Tressel will start featuring the tight ends more in the offense. It’s blind faith, fanciful optimism.

This matchup is a about as close as any Pac-10 game involving Washington State since 2007, a sprint between LaMichael James and Tressel, or the I Love My Ducks video compared to what Oregon State and Iowa pathetically attempted. You get the point.

Every fall, stories in Columbus start sprouting about how Tressel will start featuring the tight ends more in the offense. It’s blind faith, fanciful optimism.
Although I guess the keyword there is “more”.
It’s like saying you’ll take out the trash but you never do it. Passing to the tight end for Ohio State has become the equivalent of a defiant teenager who won’t do his chores.
When their tight ends combined for 11 catches last year – less than one per game – I guess “more” isn’t necessarily that far out of the question.
And hey, what do ya know, the Ohio State media nailed it – the Buckeyes jumped from their total of 11 all the way up to 15.
That’s about as impressive as predicting that the Love Guru or any movie with Larry the Cable Guy would strike out at the box office.
Somebody find their tarot cards!
Ok, so the Ohio State offense isn’t exactly built around throwing to the tight ends. But senior Jake Ballard and redshirt freshman Jake Stoneburner (what’s with the Buckeyes having players with the same name at the same position?) are both talented players.
Ballard is a great leader, a team spokesman and more importantly a terrific blocker – he even won the Jim Parker Award for best Ohio State offensive lineman.
Stoneburner brings a receiver’s athleticism to the position, even if he’s still learning how to block. The former four-star and No. 4 overall tight end recruit, has two catches for thirty yards on the season – but I bet they were both dandies.
If the Jakes can adequately pick up the blitz and give Pryor enough time to find DeVier Posey or Dane Sanzenbacher, and maybe sneak out for a first down catch or two, they will have done their job.
Gotta love high expectations.
Meanwhile, the Ducks have two legitimate pass-catching tight ends.
Everyone knows about Ed Dickson, but sophomore David Paulson has come out of nowhere to become an excellent complement the two-time all Pac-10 honoree.
Neither is used much for blocking, as Dickson usually lines up split out like a slot receiver, but why relegate them to blocking duty when they put up a combined 54 catches and 730 yards receiving?
And that’s even more impressive when you factor in that throwing the ball is Masoli’s third option.
But when Masoli focused on finding Dickson, the results were impressive. Against Cal and
Washington State, Dickson combined for 251 yards and four touchdowns on 18 catches. Not too shabby.
Dickson provides a matchup nightmare for any team, and even if he has to resort to playing decoy, it allows for James, Masoli or Maehl to beat the Buckeyes in other ways.
So let’s see, tOSU has 15 catches for 156 yards and zero touchdowns from the position and the Ducks have, well, a lot more than that.
I’ll take Oregon.
Rating:
Oregon 8.5, Ohio State 5.5.
Total: Oregon 33.5, Ohio State 27.5.

Although I guess the keyword there is “more”.

It’s like saying you’ll take out the trash but you never do it. Passing to the tight end for Ohio State has become the equivalent of a defiant teenager who won’t do his chores.

When their tight ends combined for 11 catches last year – less than one per game – I guess “more” isn’t necessarily that far out of the question.

And hey, what do ya know, the Ohio State media nailed it – the Buckeyes jumped from their total of 11 all the way up to 15.

That’s about as impressive as predicting that the Love Guru or any movie with Larry the Cable Guy would strike out at the box office.

Somebody find their tarot cards!

Ok, so the Ohio State offense isn’t exactly built around throwing to the tight ends. But senior Jake Ballard and redshirt freshman Jake Stoneburner (what’s with the Buckeyes having players with the same name at the same position?) are both talented players.

Ballard is a great leader, a team spokesman and more importantly a terrific blocker – he even won the Jim Parker Award for best Ohio State offensive lineman.

Stoneburner brings a receiver’s athleticism to the position, even if he’s still learning how to block. The former four-star and No. 4 overall tight end recruit, has two catches for thirty yards on the season – but I bet they were both dandies.

If the Jakes can adequately pick up the blitz and give Pryor enough time to find DeVier Posey or Dane Sanzenbacher, and maybe sneak out for a first down catch or two, they will have done their job.

Gotta love high expectations.

Meanwhile, the Ducks have two legitimate pass-catching tight ends.

Everyone knows about Ed Dickson, but sophomore David Paulson has come out of nowhere to become an excellent complement to the two-time all Pac-10 honoree. (Paulson’s catch at Washington: fast forward to the 2:35 mark)

Neither is used much for blocking, as Dickson usually lines up split out like a slot receiver, but why relegate them to blocking duty when they put up a combined 54 catches and 730 yards receiving?

And that’s even more impressive when you factor in that throwing the ball is Masoli’s third option.

But when Masoli focused on finding Dickson, the results were impressive. Against Cal and Washington State, Dickson combined for 251 yards and four touchdowns on 18 catches. Not too shabby.

Dickson provides a matchup nightmare for any team, and even if he has to resort to playing decoy, it allows for James, Masoli or Maehl to beat the Buckeyes in other ways.

So let’s see, tOSU has 15 catches for 156 yards and zero touchdowns from the position and the Ducks have, well, a lot more than that.

I’ll take Oregon.

Rating:

Oregon 8.5, Ohio State 6.

Total: Oregon 33.5, Ohio State 28.

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Breaking Down the Rose Bowl: Battle of the WRs

Continuing with position breakdowns, today I’ll go over the running backs. If you missed yesterday’s, you can read about the running backs here.
This is by far the toughest decision so far. Oregon has the depth and Ohio State has the star power. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, I am leaving tight end for a separate position, so there is no Ed Dickson or David Paulson in the equation.
For all the publicity that Jamere Holland was getting during fall camp as the next breakout wide receiver, it’s a bit of a letdown that he finished the season with more drops than he had catches. (Maybe I’m making that up but it sure feels like it)
Looking back on it now, it seems like the Oregon media said, “Well, there’s no one else so let’s just say Holland is going to be the man.”
13 receptions, five missed games and only two touchdowns later, Holland has turned out to be a bigger disappointment than any single Nicholas Cage movie, finishing with only one catch in four out of his seven games.
Luckily for the Ducks, their offense isn’t exactly built around a superstar wide receiver. With the emergence of LaMichael James and the ability for Jeremiah Masoli to take off and run like a fullback with 4.6 speed, passing the ball isn’t the top priority.
But when he’s needed to throw, Masoli has several adequate targets. In fact, of late, Jeff Maehl has established himself as the go-to-guy, coming up with huge games against Arizona and Oregon State down the stretch.
Junior D.J. Davis and sophomore Lavasier Tuinei are both nice slot receivers, but the only plays ever really called for them are “Hey, let’s throw three screen passes in a row and see if the corners will figure it out.”
Shockingly, Davis and Tuinei average 10.5 and 8.5 yards per catch.
For tOSU, sophomore DeVier Posey is who Holland should have been.
The track star and former five-star recruit, has blossomed into a legitimate No. 1 wide receiving this fall, leading the Buckeyes with 727 yards and seven touchdowns. That is even more impressive considering that he has accounted for 40 percent of Pryor’s pass yards.
Although, some have said Pryor looks a little too much in Posey’s direction. (Maybe that’s why his interceptions have spiked this year)
It’s a good thing Posey has stepped up, because following the departures of Brian Robiske and Brian Hartline to the NFL, Ohio State was looking abnormally thin at the position compared to what they are used to having (Robiske, Harline, Anthony Gonzalez and Santonio Holmes).
Helping relieve some pressure from Posey is Dane Sanzenbacher. The junior has adjusted nicely from being the seldom used slot receiver last year to starting this season, finishing with 506 yards and six touchdowns.
I’m not sure which would be more impressive: his 18.7 yards per catch average or his last name in Scrabble if used on a double word score. (I vote for Scrabble, because if you can find a way to use 12 letters, you deserve a prize just for that)
Wide receiver play isn’t going to decide the game, because for both teams, passing the ball is the third option. But Ohio State’s quick strike ability sure is an advantage in case they need to come from behind.
Which I am sure hoping is the case.
Rating:
Ohio State 7, Oregon 6.
Overall: Oregon 25, Ohio State 22.

Continuing with position breakdowns, today I’ll go over the wide receivers. If you missed yesterday’s, you can read about the running backs here.

Devier Posey is the biggest airial threat in the passing game for either team.

Devier Posey is the biggest airial threat in the passing game for either team.

This is by far the toughest decision so far. Oregon has the depth and Ohio State has the star power. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, I am leaving tight end for a separate position, so there is no Ed Dickson or David Paulson in the equation.

For all the publicity that Jamere Holland was getting during fall camp as the next breakout wide receiver, it’s a bit of a letdown that he finished the season with more drops than he had catches. (Maybe I’m making that up but it sure feels like it)

Looking back on it now, it seems like the Oregon media said, “Well, there’s no one else so let’s just say Holland is going to be the man.”

13 receptions, five missed games and only two touchdowns later, Holland has turned out to be a bigger disappointment than any single Nicholas Cage movie, finishing with only one catch in four out of his seven games.

Luckily for the Ducks, their offense isn’t exactly built around a superstar wide receiver. With the emergence of LaMichael James and the ability for Jeremiah Masoli to take off and run like a fullback with 4.6 speed, passing the ball isn’t the top priority.

But when he’s needed to throw, Masoli has several adequate targets. In fact, of late, Jeff Maehl has established himself as the go-to-guy, coming up with huge games against Arizona and Oregon State down the stretch.

Junior D.J. Davis and sophomore Lavasier Tuinei are both nice slot receivers, but the only plays ever really called for them are “Hey, let’s throw three screen passes in a row and see if the corners will figure it out.”

Shockingly, Davis and Tuinei average 10.5 and 8.5 yards per catch.

For tOSU, sophomore DeVier Posey is who Holland should have been.

The track star and former five-star recruit, has blossomed into a legitimate No. 1 wide receiving this fall, leading the Buckeyes with 727 yards and seven touchdowns. That is even more impressive considering that he has accounted for 40 percent of Pryor’s pass yards.

Although, some have said Pryor looks a little too much in Posey’s direction. (Maybe that’s why his interceptions have spiked this year)

It’s a good thing Posey has stepped up, because following the departures of Brian Robiske and Brian Hartline to the NFL, Ohio State was looking abnormally thin at the position compared to what they are used to having (Robiske, Harline, Anthony Gonzalez and Santonio Holmes).

Helping relieve some pressure from Posey is Dane Sanzenbacher. The junior has adjusted nicely from being the seldom used slot receiver last year to starting this season, finishing with 506 yards and six touchdowns.

I’m not sure which would be more impressive: his 18.7 yards per catch average or his last name in Scrabble if used on a double word score. (I pick Scrabble, because if you can find a way to use 12 letters, you deserve a prize just for that)

Wide receiver play isn’t going to decide the game, because for both teams, passing the ball is the third option. But Ohio State’s quick strike ability sure is an advantage in case they need to come from behind.

Which I am sure hoping is the case.

Rating:

Ohio State 7, Oregon 6.

Overall: Oregon 25, Ohio State 22.

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Breaking Down the Rose Bowl: Battle of the RBs

This play made me salivate.

This play made me salivate.

Continuing with position breakdowns, today I’ll go over the running backs. If you missed yesterday’s, you can read about the quarterbacks here.

After losing Beanie Wells, a first round pick, last season, there were questions about how effectively the Buckeyes would be able to run the ball. Coach Jim Tressel downplayed it, instead talking up how Terrelle Pryor’s growth over the summer would account for the lack of the workhorse running back they are used to having (Wells, Antonio Pittman and dare I say it, Maurice Clarett).

That didn’t go according to plan, but Ohio State still won the Big Ten (eleven), even though they might as well have been playing against beer-league flag football teams. I mean, their biggest competition was Iowa. If the second best team if your conference can throw five interceptions again Indiana (the Hoosiers!) and still win, yeah, you have a weak conference.

In fact, their leading ball carrier is none other than the quarterback. Not a good sign for a team that is known for grinding it out on the ground. It’s amazing what teams will do to land a top recruit.
Apparently Ohio State was willing to throw their entire offensive strategy out the window. But hey, I guess it was time to change it up. Getting smashed harder than Lindsay Lohan at an open bar in BCS games is only fun for so long.

But in all seriousness, the Buckeyes do have a legitimate threat in the backfield, even though he is third on the team in carries and gets little to no national publicity. For all the press than Pryor and DeVier Posey receive on the offense, junior Brandon Saine goes relatively unnoticed.

In fact, like Bill Livingston said in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the biggest case of tOSU neglect stands 6-2, weighs 217 pounds, ran a faster 100-meter time (10.38 seconds) when he was Ohio’s high school state champion than Ted Ginn Jr., the old Glenville flash, and made second team All-Big Ten, despite having only the third-most carries on his team.

Neither of the Ohio State losses can be blamed on Saine. He received only one carry for two yards against Southern California while sophomore counterpart Daniel Herron ran 18 times for 44 yards, including getting stuffed at the Trojan goal line.

Saine also missed the Purdue game with an injury. But he has gotten healthy and turned on the jets lately, finishing the season strong with four touchdowns in as many games.

It will be intriguing to watch the Duck defense contain the Buckeye backfield, with an uncharacteristically fast offense match up with the speedy Oregon side.

Meanwhile, we all know about LaMichael James. My number one man crush also received Pac-10 freshman of the year and AP Third Team All-American honors.

James more than filled in for LeGarrette Blount; he made fans forget about him. He made me feel like I was playing a video game every time he touched the ball.

Case in point: the UCLA game (fast forward to 55 seconds in).

LMJ’s short stature actually works to his advantage, allowing him to sneak behind the offensive line until he finds the hole and then bursts through it faster than Lance Briggs fled the crime scene after crashing his Lamborghini Murcielago in 2007.

The freshman has the highest yards per carry, at 6.9, than any other running back in a BCS conference.

The re-emergence of Blount only adds to the punch of the Oregon backfield. (See what I did there?)

For the first time all year, Chip Kelly can give LMJ a breather knowing that he won’t have to take a hit in talent at running back. (Oops, I did it again)

The running game has been the strongest point for the Ducks all season long, averaging over 236 yards per game on the ground.

But the Buckeyes are no slouches either, topping 200 a game themselves.

I think it’s safe to say that whoever wins the running game will most likely come out on top.

Rating:

Oregon 10, Buckeyes 8.

Total: Oregon 19, Buckeyes 15.

Breaking Down the Rose Bowl: Battle of the QBs

It’s never too early to start talking about the Rose Bowl. And even though we’re still 18 days away from the annual New Years Day tradition, I’m about nine days and eighteen hours behind everyone else.
With so much time to kill before the actual game (insert I want a playoff rant here), I will compare the Ducks and Buckeyes position by position to see who stacks up better on paper – because as we know, whoever is better on paper always wins the game. Uhh, never mind.
Where better to start than the quarterbacks? Let’s get it on.
If I had told you in December of 2007 that Jeremiah Masoli would be better than Terrelle Pryor you probably would have laughed harder than the first time you showed your unsuspecting friend the two girls one cup video.
Prior, the all-everything uber recruit, drew Vince Young comparisons before he even signed a letter of intent. The Army All-American Bowl MVP was ranked No. 1 by every single recruiting service in the world, galaxy and universe.
My roommate even started a Facebook fan page called “Make Terrell Pryor an Oregon Duck” that quickly amassed 2,000 supporters. Of course, on March 19th, the name of the page was quickly changed to “Terrelle Pryor Will Get Owned by the Oregon Ducks”.
Funny how things change in the world of sports.
What about Masoli. Where was Masoli in 2007? He was trying to recover from being expelled from Bay Area football power house Serra High School (in my hometown!) after he, and three other captains, were arrested and charged with robbing a kid at the mall.
Fortunately, Masoli got back on track at Community College of San Francisco, a national junior college power, winning the national championship and player of the year honors as a freshman.
Quietly and with little fan fare, the Ducks landed the three star recruit and listed him fifth on the depth chart going into last season. There was no such Facebook page was made for him.
Four injured quarterbacks later, Masoli was starting and we all know the story from there.
Masoli is what Pryor was supposed to be, a spread-option machine, perfect for Chip Kelly’s wide open system. And well, Pryor is the tenth most efficient quarterback in the Big Ten – slightly behind expectations.
Ok, maybe that’s selling Pryor a bit short.  He still has all the potential in the world, and being thrust into the starting role as a freshman in one the country’s biggest programs, and having coach who has no idea how to run a spread offense is no easy task to deal with.
That said, he still has trouble making the correct reads and knowing when to take off or stay in the pocket. His interceptions are up and his completion percentage is down from last year. Also, Prior has been sacked 18 times for more than 200 yards.
With a month to prepare for Oregon’s speedy, yet undersized defense, Pryor might be at an advantage. The Ducks have never seen such a gifted dual-threat quarterback before, so they might have some trouble stopping him in the open field.
But if the Oregon defense can bring pressure and fluster the sophomore quarterback, there’s a good chance Pryor will start to lose composure, like in the Purdue game where he was visibly upset, even starting arguments with his teammates.
Masoli, on the other hand, has played just about as well as humanly possible since the start of Pac-10 play. Since the Cal game, Masoli holds a 63-percent completion percentage and a 15:3 touchdown to interception ratio, not including his seven rushing touchdowns.
Another plus for Masoli is that he gets up for big games: Both Civil Wars, the Holiday Bowl and the last few games in the Pac-10.  Masoli truly thrives when the pressure is on (see Masoli’s run late in the fourth quarter against the Beavs in you don’t believe me).
I fully expect Masoli to be the better quarterback on New Years Day.
Rating (I will rate each position on a 1-10 scale and keep a running tally as we go along):
Masoli 9, Pryor 7.
If the only thing that mattered in college football was freaking athletcism, Pryor would be a two-time Heisman winner.

If the only thing that mattered in college football was freakish athleticism, Pryor would be a two-time Heisman winner.

It’s never too early to start talking about the Rose Bowl. And even though we’re still 18 days away from the annual New Years Day tradition, I’m about nine days and eighteen hours behind everyone else.

With so much time to kill before the actual game (insert I want a playoff rant here), I will compare the Ducks and Buckeyes position by position to see who stacks up better on paper – because as we all know, whoever is better on paper always wins the game. Uhh, never mind.

Where better to start than the quarterbacks? Let’s get it on.

If I had told you in December of 2007 that Jeremiah Masoli would be better than Terrelle Pryor you probably would have laughed harder than the first time you showed your unsuspecting friend the two girls one cup video.

Pryor, the all-everything uber recruit, drew Vince Young comparisons before he even signed a letter of intent. The Army All-American Bowl MVP was ranked No. 1 by every single recruiting service in the world, galaxy and universe.

My roommate even started a Facebook fan page called “Make Terrell Pryor an Oregon Duck” that quickly amassed 2,000 supporters. Of course, on March 19th, the name of the page was swiftly changed to “Terrelle Pryor Will Get Owned by the Oregon Ducks”.

Funny how fast things change in the world of sports.

What about Masoli. Where was he in 2007? Masoli was trying to rebound from being expelled from Bay Area football power house Serra High School (in my hometown!) after he, and three other captains, were arrested and charged with robbing a kid at the mall.

Fortunately, Masoli got back on track at Community College of San Francisco, a national junior college power, winning the national championship and player of the year honors as a freshman.

Quietly and with little fan fare, the Ducks landed the three star recruit and listed him fifth on their depth chart going into last season. There was no such Facebook page was made for him.

Four injured quarterbacks later, Masoli was starting and we all know the story from there.

Masoli is what Pryor was supposed to be, a spread-option machine, perfect for Chip Kelly’s wide open system. And well, Pryor is the tenth most efficient quarterback in the Big Ten – slightly behind expectations.

Ok, maybe that’s selling Pryor a bit short.  He still has all the potential in the world, and having been thrust into the starting role as a freshman in one the country’s biggest programs, and having coach who has no idea how to run a spread offense is no easy situation to deal with.

That said, he still has trouble making the correct reads and knowing when to take off or stay in the pocket. His interceptions are up and his completion percentage is down from last year. Also, Prior has been sacked 18 times for more than 200 yards.

With a month to prepare for Oregon’s speedy, yet undersized defense, Pryor might be at an advantage. The Ducks have never seen such a gifted dual-threat quarterback before, so they might have some trouble stopping him in the open field.

But if the Oregon defense can bring pressure and fluster the sophomore quarterback, there’s a good chance Pryor will start to lose his composure, like in the Purdue game where he was visibly upset, even starting arguments with his teammates on the field.

Masoli, on the other hand, has played just about as well as humanly possible since the start of Pac-10 play. Since the Cal game, Masoli holds a 63-percent completion percentage and a 15:3 touchdown to interception ratio, not including his seven rushing touchdowns.

Another plus for Masoli is that he gets up for big games: Both Civil Wars, the Holiday Bowl and the last few games in the Pac-10.  Masoli truly thrives when the pressure is on (see Masoli’s run late in the fourth quarter against the Beavs in you don’t believe me).

I fully expect Masoli to be the better quarterback on New Years Day.

Rating (I will rate each position on a 1-10 scale and keep a running tally as we go along):

Masoli 9, Pryor 7.

Hey Oregon Football Fans: Look What You’ve Missed on the Hardwood

If you go to Kansas, Kentucky or Syracuse, football season couldn’t have ended fast enough.
Why bother suffering through the endless Mark Mangino fat jokes when you could support a different sport in which the national media has doled out 62 first place votes?
Kentucky already has accounted for more wins on the hardwood in one month than they did on the football field since last October. I think fans in the Bluegrass State are much happier watching the most exciting player the country, freshman John Wall, instead of freshman quarterback Morgan Newton struggle his way to a 55.4 completion percentage.
And Syracuse, well, they were so desperate for basketball season that they stole Duke’s point guard to be their quarterback.
So if you’re a Duck fan, I hope you relished every second of the football regular season because after the Rose Bowl, it’s a long way back until football season. It hurts to say, but the most exciting sport during the winter in Eugene is football recruiting. But hey, at least we’re doing well at that!
Alright, maybe I’m being a bit too harsh. Or maybe not.
I had a chance to take in today’s game against the St. Mary’s Gaels and the team is clearly much improved from last year. It won’t take until February to win the first game of conference play. But the same crutches still remain: Turnovers, forced shots, missed free throws and the complete lack of a half court offense.
And what do you know, those exact reasons led to a fourth quarter collapse against a beatable St. Mary’s squad (I think they were the first team in the history of D1 basketball to start five white players, especially one with a 6-1 record).
The Ducks led most of the game, controlling the tempo and letting their superior athleticism bail them out in transition and on the glass. But late in the second half, Oregon started slowing the pace, trying to control the clock. And here’s a shocker – the Gaels started creeping their way back into the game.
In short, Oregon looked more lost running the half court set than when Bambi realized the hunter had made dinner out of his mother.
First of all, earth to Michael Dunigan: A screen doesn’t work just by running to a certain spot on the floor and standing there.  You actually have to make contact with the defender. And secondly, didn’t you learn in elementary school that after you set your “screen” you roll to the basket?  You don’t just lollygag at the top of the key with your hands in your pockets waiting for the play to end so it’s a shorter run back on defense.
I don’t get why Ernie Kent would force his team into an uncomfortable style of play that he KNOWS they aren’t good at, when the only reason they were winning in the first place was because they managed to completely avoid running a half court set the entire game.
Ernie Kent, dance with you brung you.
If you haven’t figured out yet, Oregon basketball is my whipping boy for Duck athletics. I can shamelessly say that I never get tired of Joevan Catron fat jokes or “fire Ernie Kent” talk.
And missing nine free throws in a five point loss isn’t going to slow me down anytime soon.
But let’s take a second to look at the positives.
With Tajuan Porter and Catron (thank God) sitting out, it gave some of the youngsters a chance to get some extra run. E.J. Singler, Malcom Armstead and Jamil Wilson all look like future quality starters.
Singler brought back Kareem Abdul-Jabar’s famous sky hook, unleashing it against taller defenders  successfully at least three times. He also has an eye for the correct passing lanes, dishing out four assists without recording a turnover.
Armstead will make a solid back-up point guard once Porter returns from his ankle woes. The juco transfer is a physical player who likes to take the ball to the rack and gives his all on D, averaging over 2.5 steals per game.
Wilson, when he isn’t tripping over his own feet, shows flashes of absolute brilliance. The freshman out of Wisconsin has a smooth stroke and a constant motor, always following his own shot and finding a man to box out. Then again, there’s the three for thirteen performance against Missouri last weekend.
But the player to watch this season is Teondre Williams. The sophomore looks like a completely different player than last year – and considering he had a 36.1 FG%, that’s a good thing.
He can shoot, drive, dish, defend, and deliver some rim-shaking dunks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make the Pac-10 second team.
Don’t get too excited yet, Duck fans, this team still has a long way to go before reaching even half of its potential. Until they understand the basics, Oregon will be in for a season filled with highs and (even more) lows.
Hopefully, Ernie Kent will soon check his ego at the door and give Mike Dunlap a chance to teach something Kent can’t: The fundamentals.
There aren't any other good basketball pictures, but you'll probably enjoy this more anyway. ESPN ranked them the most distracting cheerleaders in college basketball. Smart choice.

There aren't any other good basketball pictures, but you'll probably enjoy this more anyway. ESPN ranked them the most distracting cheerleaders in college basketball. Smart choice.

If you go to Kansas, Kentucky or Syracuse, football season couldn’t have ended fast enough.

Why bother suffering through the endless Mark Mangino fat jokes when you could support a different sport in which the national media has doled out 62 first place votes?

Kentucky already has accounted for more wins on the hardwood in one month than they did on the football field since last October. I think fans in the Bluegrass State are much happier watching the most exciting player the country, freshman John Wall, instead of freshman quarterback Morgan Newton struggle his way to a 55.4 completion percentage.

And Syracuse, well, they were so desperate for basketball season that they stole Duke’s point guard to be their quarterback.

So if you’re a Duck fan, I hope you relished every second of the football regular season because after the Rose Bowl, it’s a long way back until football season. It hurts to say, but the most exciting sport during the winter in Eugene is football recruiting. But hey, at least we’re doing well at that!

Alright, maybe I’m being a bit too harsh. Or maybe not.

I had a chance to take in today’s game against the St. Mary’s Gaels and the team is clearly much improved from last year. It won’t take until February to win the first game of conference play. But the same crutches still remain: Turnovers, forced shots, missed free throws and the complete lack of a half court offense.

And what do you know, those exact reasons led to a fourth quarter collapse against a beatable St. Mary’s squad (I think they were the first team in the history of D1 basketball to start five white players, especially one with a 6-1 record).

The Ducks led most of the game, controlling the tempo and letting their superior athleticism bail them out in transition and on the glass. But late in the second half, Oregon started slowing the pace, trying to control the clock. And here’s a shocker – the Gaels started creeping their way back into the game.

In short, Oregon looked more lost running the half court set than when Bambi realized the hunter had made dinner out of his mother.

First of all, earth to Michael Dunigan: A screen doesn’t work just by running to a certain spot on the floor and standing there.  You actually have to make contact with the defender. And secondly, didn’t you learn in elementary school that after you set your “screen” you roll to the basket?  You don’t just lollygag at the top of the key with your hands in your pockets waiting for the play to end so it’s a shorter run back on defense.

I don’t get why Ernie Kent would force his team into an uncomfortable style of play that he KNOWS they aren’t good at, when the only reason they were winning in the first place was because they managed to completely avoid running a half court set the entire game.

Ernie Kent, dance with you brung you.

If you haven’t figured out yet, Oregon basketball is my whipping boy for Duck athletics. I can shamelessly say that I never get tired of Joevan Catron fat jokes or “fire Ernie Kent” talk.

And missing nine free throws in a five point loss isn’t going to slow me down anytime soon.

But let’s take a second to look at the positives.

With Tajuan Porter and Catron (thank God) sitting out, it gave some of the youngsters a chance to get some extra run. E.J. Singler, Malcom Armstead and Jamil Wilson all look like future quality starters.

Singler brought back Kareem Abdul-Jabar’s famous sky hook, unleashing it against taller defenders  successfully at least three times. He also has an eye for the correct passing lanes, dishing out four assists without recording a turnover.

Armstead will make a solid back-up point guard once Porter returns from his ankle woes. The juco transfer is a physical player who likes to take the ball to the rack and gives his all on D, averaging over 2.5 steals per game.

Wilson, when he isn’t tripping over his own feet, shows flashes of absolute brilliance. The freshman out of Wisconsin has a smooth stroke and a constant motor, always following his own shot and finding a man to box out. Then again, there’s the three for thirteen performance against Missouri last weekend.

But the player to watch this season is Teondre Williams. The sophomore looks like a completely different player than last year – and considering he had a 36.1 FG%, that’s a good thing.

He can shoot, drive, dish, defend, and deliver some rim-shaking dunks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make the Pac-10 second team.

Don’t get too excited yet, Duck fans, this team still has a long way to go before reaching even half of its potential. Until they understand the basics, Oregon will be in for a season filled with highs and (even more) lows.

Hopefully, Ernie Kent will soon check his ego at the door and give Mike Dunlap a chance to teach something Kent can’t: The fundamentals.

The Green Man: An Integrated Sports Marketing Ambush Strategy

green man

How could you not like this guy?

It’s no secret that people are attracted to celebrity. That’s why brands and mega-corporations hire athletes, actors and hot women to promote their products: people often blindly emulate and imitate the stars they idolize.

Michael Jordan built Nike, George Foreman became known more his grills than his boxing career, and Peyton Manning, well, he’ll endorse just about anything.

Celebrity endorsements can work on a national scale if the celebrity’s star power is strong enough, but in some cases, it can be more efficient to target local icons where the entire community will get behind just about everything they say.

Case in point: The Oregon Green Man.

Football is just about as big at the University of Oregon as Tiger Woods is nationwide, so if a company can hire a passionate, loveable fan that epitomizes Oregon Football – for a fraction of the price – there’s a good chance that the company will get a good return on its investment.

Lundquist College of Business seniors, Steven Strand and Daniel Cogan, were hired by New York-based marketing agency Mr. Youth to be Hewett Packard brand ambassadors on the Oregon campus.

Seeing that HP doesn’t have a sponsorship agreement with the University of Oregon athletic department, the students were struggling to find a way to align themselves with the university.

As students of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, they saw the opportunity to leverage their role as HP Ambassadors and align their marketing efforts with one of the universities premier sports properties in such a way that required no official purchase of marketing rights.

By recognizing and leveraging a local student icon, they were able to promote, advertise, and execute a successful ambush campaign.

DuckVision, ESPN cameras and Facebook users all love the Green Man – and they should. If he’s crazy enough to wear nothing but a paper-thin nylon suit to 20 degree football games, the man deserves some attention.

And boy, has he gotten plenty of it.

With over 3,000 dedicated fans on Facebook – mostly students – the Green Man can easily communicate with the desired target audience. As a key element of promoting an HP-sponsored tailgate before the Arizona State game, they required the Green Man to post several times in his status updates that he would be hanging out at the tailgate.

Word quickly spread and the Oregon Daily Emerald, the student-run newspaper, published a release about the endorsement agreement: “The HP tailgate event has also partnered with Green Man, an enthusiastic University football fan, to attend the event, take photos and greet fans”.

Steve and Daniel estimate that over 300 people stopped by to enjoy the free hot dogs provided by HP and to check out the dm3 computer they had set up.

Along with the tailgate, the Green Man wore cleverly placed HP stickers on his suit during the game, finding his way numerous times onto DuckVision and ESPN to boot.

“”HP’s Brand Ambassadors, Dan and Steve, came to us with the suggestion to incorporate the Green Man into an HP sponsored tailgate that the team was hosting to promote the new HP Pavilion dm3 notebook,” said Mr. Youth representative Ashley Tyson.

“We were excited to see the Green Man supporting the HP brand. HP is deeply invested in student life at the University of Oregon and we will look to continue that in future semesters.”

Without a doubt, the partnership has been a resounding success. With low input costs and lots of exposure, the brand ambassadors found a great strategy for influencing brand preference at a critical age for potential lifelong HP customers.