The Fiesta Bowl served as the penultimate contest of the 2008–2009 Bowl Championship Series (BCS) of the 2008 NCAA Division I FBS football season and was the concluding game of the season for both teams involved. This 38th edition of the Fiesta Bowl was televised in the United States on FOX. It was the third meeting in the history of the two schools.
The victory by Texas gave Ohio State their third straight bowl loss, their longest such streak since the early John Cooper era (when they lost 4 bowls in a row from 1989–92). This follows a four game bowl winning streak which tied for longest in OSU history.
One of the three most victorious programs in college football history as judged by either number of wins or winning percentage, the University of Texas has traditionally been considered a college football powerhouse. From 1936 to 2004, the team finished the season in the top ten 23 times, or one-third of the time, according to the Associated Press. The team that coach Mack Brown fielded in 2005 has been called one of the most memorable in college football history by College Football News.
Like the Longhorns, the Buckeyes are an elite football program. The Buckeyes program has produced 164 first-team All-American players, including seven Heisman Trophy winners. The Buckeyes rank fifth in college football history in terms of both total wins and winning percentage.
Texas and Ohio State have two of the longest-running programs in college football, but they have played each other only twice. Texas won the 2005 game en route to winning their most recent national championship (in the process becoming the first visitor to win a night game at Ohio Stadium). In the 2006 game, which was won by Ohio State, OSU and Texas were ranked #1 and #2 respectively. It was only the 36th time that the top two teams in college football had ever faced each other outside of the BCS National Championship . OSU later played against #2 Michigan Wolverines in the Buckeyes' regular season finale.
After being passed over in the selection for the 2009 BCS National Championship Game, the Longhorns were selected to represent the Big 12 Conference as host team in the Fiesta Bowl. The Buckeyes were selected as an "at-large" school from among the eligible teams. The day the bowl bids were announced the sports betting line opened with Texas as ten-point favorites, the most of any of the 2009 BCS bowls.