The Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks in the 2011 Sugar Bowl on Tuesday, thanks in large part to the performances of players who never should have been on the field. By now you know that the Buckeyes have had five players suspended — all juniors — for the first 5 games of next season by the NCAA as a result of violations involving improper benefits. However, the players were inexplicably allowed to participate in the team’s BCS bowl game.
As if that wasn’t ridiculous enough, the soon-to-be suspended players had a huge impact in the Buckeye’s bowl victory. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor passed for 221 yards and two touchdowns, with seventy of the yards and one score going to receiver DeVier Posey. Pryor also rushed for 115 yards. Running back Dan Herron rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown while offensive lineman Mike Adams was the only player without a measurable impact.
The fifth player, defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, made the play of the game after a blocked Ohio State punt gave the Razorbacks the ball on the Buckeyes’ 18-yard line with just over a minute left. On the second play of the series, Thomas dropped into coverage and intercepted Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett’s pass, falling to the ground with 58 seconds left to preserve the five-point victory.
After the game, much of the talk from Ohio State players and coaches emphasized the notion that the suspended players “stepped-up” in this game. Despite the adversity they were facing, they were able to buckle down and help the team succeed. The only problem is they never should have been on the field. The fact that they played well only underscores the fact that the NCAA gave them preferential treatment. Don’t be surprised if Cam Newton plays lights out in the National Championship game, too. What brave, brave student athletes.
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