The #2 Oregon Ducks will face the #4 Ohio State Buckeyes, Monday Night in Texas, for the National Championship. Both of these teams are coming off impressive wins in the first ever college football playoffs. Oregon thoroughly outclassed, and outplayed #3Florida State. They defeated the Seminoles 59 -20. The Ducks could have scored 70 points in that game but they sat most of their starters with about 12 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Ohio State defeated #1Alabama 42-35. The Buckeyes trailed 21-6 early in on the game but finished strong, outscoring the Crimson Tide 36-14 and advancing to the Finals.
The Ducks are one of the best offensive teams in the history of college football. They have had 9 games this year where they went on a 20-0 “scoring run” against their opponents. That is like a basketball stat. They outscored Florida State 41-7 in the second half. The Ducks have scored at least 42 points in their last 9 games. On the season they have scored over 42 points in every game but 2. Over their last 9 games the Ducks have outscored their opponents 443-196. There are dominating the competition from start to finish.
The Ducks offense begins and ends with Heisman Trophy Winner, Marcus Mariota. On the season, Mariota has 56 total touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. Some so called “experts” in the media, have labeled Mariota as a “system quarterback”. I have seen every game this year and I am here to tell you, Mariota makes the system. It is amazing, what he has done. Amongst the chaos and speed of the Oregon offense, Mariota remains calm, cool and collective. He runs the offense to perfection. He knows when to hurry up the play calling and when to slow it down some. He is having one of the greatest seasons in the history of college football. He has one of the smartest football IQ’s and is a film and gym junkie. Against Florida State, Mariota was 26-36, had 400 yards of total offense and 3 touchdowns. He spreads the ball around with great ease. Six Oregon receivers had at least 2 receptions in the Rose Bowl.
Oregon’s wide receiver Devon Allen left with a knee injury after fielding the opening kickoff against Florida State. Allen will not pay in the national championship game. This is another huge loss for the Ducks, Allen had 41 receptions and 641 yards on the season. Other players will have to step up. After missing a few games with an injury, running back Thomas Tyner had 13 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns in the Rose Bowl win. Tyner and Royce Freeman give Oregon one of the best 1-2 running back combinations in the country. Darren Carrington had 7 receptions for 165 yards and 2 touchdowns. Carrington has just been suspended for the National Championship Game.
What can you say about the Ohio State Buckeyes and coach Urban Meyer? They lost their starting quarterback Braxton Miller at the start of the year. Then, they lost their backup, J.T. Miller at the end of the season. Since that time they have beaten Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten Championship game, and they defeated #1 Alabama 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl. They won their two biggest games of the season with a 3rd string quarterback. Do you know how hard that is to do? If you don’t know, ask the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL. The Cardinals were in a similar situation this year and their 3rd string quarterback, Ryan Lindley, was horrendous down the strech and in their 1 playoff loss. Cardale Jones is 6’5 250lbs. He has great size and can extend plays with his speed and strength. He wasn’t great against Alabama, (18-35, 286 total yards and 1 touchdown and 1 interception) but, he did enough to help OSU win. Running back Ezekiel Elliot continues to be the one constant for the Buckeyes. Elliot carried the ball 20 times for 230 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 11.5 yards per carry against the Crimson Tide’s defense. That is video game like numbers.
Neither team has been dominant defensively. But both have improved as the year has gone on. Oregon without All- American defensive back, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu held Florida Sate to 20 points. Over the last 4 games, the Ducks are giving up a stingy, 17 points per game.
The breakdown of this game is very easy, you have the best player in the country Marcus Mariota, going up against the best college football coach in the country, Urban Meyer. Ohio State has lost 3 games in three years since Urban Meyer became their head coach. He has not only changed Ohio State, he has changed the Big-10. Traditionally the Big-10 was a “ground and pound” conference. Meyer has built OSU on speed and up-tempo. When the game gets bigger, Meyer gets better. He is 8-2 in bowl games and 2-0, in National Championship games. (Alabama coach Nick Saban is 8-8 in bowl games).
The only way Ohio State can beat Oregon is to limit their possessions on offense. Arizona defeated Oregon 31-24 on October 2nd. Oregon was without 3 starting offensive lineman that game. Arizona was effective in keeping Mariota on the sideline and running the ball. The Wildcats rushed for over 200 yards that game and forced Oregon to commit 2 turnovers. The Ducks are 3rd in the Nation in turnover differential. Florida State turned the bowl over 5 times against Oregon, and the Ducks made them pay… Scoring a Rose Bowl record, 59 points.
If Ohio State can control the ball and run it effectively, the way they did against Alabama, they have a great chance of winning. Ohio State likes to play up tempo, but you can’t beat Oregon at their game, which is playing fast paced. All year long critics have said OSU is about a year away from winning it all. I agree with that, they have had an amazing year but their dreams will be shattered Monday Night. The Ducks will continue to roll with Mariota and win a high scoring contest 48-37. Mariota will be without 3 starting WR but the Oregon Ducks will win the National Championship.
Monte Perez. Follow me on twitter: Montetjwitter11