|Buckeyes, Longhorns land in desert|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 29 December 2008 13:41|
``We are so excited to be here,'' Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel said after stepping off the team's charter flight from Columbus on a sunny, 60-degree morning. ``For whatever reason, I'm more excited about this one than any other game I've ever been a part of.''
The third-ranked Longhorns (11-1) landed a few hours later, and they said all the right things about looking forward to next Monday night's meeting with the No. 10 Buckeyes (10-2) in nearby Glendale.
But if Texas had its druthers, its flight would have been bound for South Florida, site of the Bowl Championship Series title game.
The Longhorns finished in a three-way tie atop the rugged Big 12 South and thought their 10-point victory over Oklahoma should have earned them the nod over the Sooners. But Oklahoma was declared the division winner on a BCS standings tiebreaker, and the Sooners ripped Missouri in the Big 12 title game to earn a trip to the national title game.
n the day the BCS selections were announced, Texas coach Mack Brown said it was time for his team to move forward. On Monday, his players said they had done that.
``Our main focus is the Fiesta Bowl,'' said linebacker Brian Orakpo, who won the Nagurski, Lombardi and Hendricks Awards. ``It's a great bowl game to be in. We put all that BCS stuff to the side and now we have to take care of Ohio State.''
This is only the third meeting of the tradition-laden powers, with Texas winning in Columbus in 2005 and Ohio State taking the rematch in Austin one year later.
Both teams were greeted by a horde of yellow-jacketed Fiesta Bowl staff and volunteers at Sky Harbor Airport. But the Buckeyes probably won't need directions around town; they're making their sixth Fiesta Bowl appearance, and this is their fifth postseason trip to the Phoenix area since 2002.
Ohio State has won four straight Fiesta Bowls, claiming the national title in the Fiesta after the 2002 season.
Since then, the Fiesta Bowl has moved from Tempe's Sun Devil Stadium to the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. Two years ago, the Buckeyes lost the BCS title game to Florida on the same field where they'll meet the Longhorns next week.
The Buckeyes are making their fourth consecutive BCS appearance and seventh overall, tied with Oklahoma and USC for the most. They are 4-2 in BCS bowls, but most fans remember their last two appearances - a 48-14 loss to Florida in Glendale in January 2007 and a 38-24 loss to LSU in New Orleans last January.
This is Texas' third BCS game and second trip to the Fiesta Bowl. The Longhorns lost to Penn State 38-15 in Tempe after the 1996 season.
``Nobody on our coaching staff or team has been here before for this ballgame, so we can't wait,'' Brown said.
The Longhorns will try to match a school record with their fifth straight bowl victory.
``We've got the game plan in already,'' Orakpo said. ``Had some great practices. We'll have some fun and have a great bowl week.''