College Football Playoff Preview: #2 Oregon vs. #3 Florida State
On Thursday, college football history will be made and for the fans of this sport that has an unrivaled passion it has been a long time coming. Thursday will be the first ever College Football Playoff and a new era in the historic sport of college football will begin. This playoff system comes after 16 years of the BCS system that was insulted and ridiculed in many ways.
New Year’s Day will be one of the greatest days in the history of college football for the fact we get two national semi-final games to determine which two teams will play on January 12, 2015 to crown the 2014 college football national champion.
The College Football Playoff will kick off with number two Oregon facing off against the number three and defending national champion Florida State Seminoles. This matchup certainly has drawn tons of headlines since Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota won the 80th edition of the Heisman Trophy in early December.
This game now puts the past two Heisman Trophy winners head to head. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, and this year’s winner, Marcus Mariota, are the featured stars in this contest for obvious reasons. Their personalities couldn’t be more different, but their success on the field can’t be questioned.
Last year, Winston led the Seminoles to the national title in a dramatic comeback victory over the Auburn Tigers. Winston led a Florida State team that wasn’t only the best in 2013, but one of the best college football teams ever. This year’s version of Florida State is nowhere near as good as last year’s national title team, but still a threat to repeat and secure their spot in college football’s all time great teams.
On the other side, the Oregon Ducks will be looking to make their first national title game appearance since 2010. The Ducks were beat 22-19 by the Auburn Tigers in the 2010 national title and have come up short of returning to the national title game since that defeat.
Oregon has been in position almost every year since 2010 to make the national title, but always slipped up against Stanford late in the season. This year they jumped the hurdle known as Stanford and have cruised into the first ever College Football Playoff.
Oregon has never won a college football national title, but this is their best shot in program history according to many. The main cause of this is of course Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. Mariota has brought a belief to this Oregon team that has never been experienced before. His on the field command of the offense and off the field humbleness is something that doesn’t come along every day.
Now, let’s begin to take a closer look at this matchup between Oregon and Florida State in what will be the first ever College Football Playoff game in the history of the sport.
The most notable thing in this game is how successful the Oregon offense has been this season. The Oregon Ducks are ranked first in practically every offensive category in the college football power five. Oregon has always been known for two things, offense and uniforms, and their offense in 2014 has been one of the best in recent years.
The Florida State defense will have to be up to the task of not only containing the Oregon spread attack, but have the ability to tackle in space. The clear matchup of speed vs. power can be seen in this contest based on how Oregon plays offense and Florida State tries to overpower their opponents.
Oregon’s speed will be an issue for Florida State and if the Seminoles have any trouble at all stopping the Ducks’ run game this game could be tough for Florida State. Oregon will look to set up their deep passing game with the run and the Seminoles must limit Oregon to minimal gains in order to stop one of Mariota’s biggest strengths, which is the deep pass.
I feel this game has the potential of being a classic and an all-time classic at that. We have a battle between the past two Heisman Trophy winners and two teams that do what they do almost to perfection.
Oregon’s offense can be amazingly efficient to the point they make it look too easy. Their offense has gotten them to this point and in reality they must keep their offensive machine rolling to have any shot at winning against Florida State.
The other factor I feel that makes this game a potential classic is how Florida State goes about winning football games. Their clutch “it” factor seems to be unmatched by any team in the nation and also their grind it out style that seems to wear teams down in the fourth to allow them the chance to win all these close games.
Winston has shown the ability to rise to the occasion a number of times, but will this be the game that magic runs out? It appeared in multiple games this season that the Seminoles were about to see their winning streak snapped, but always seemed to pull through. They now have to face an opponent that can score and that is something they haven’t seen very often in the ACC.
The main key to this game when all is said and done is how well does the Florida State defense adjust to the speed and tempo Oregon’s offense will play with. This is the biggest issue for most teams that play Oregon and for Florida State I feel it could be an issue. I do not see this game turning into a blowout type situation, but rather a classic west coast style shootout type game.
In the preseason, I predicted the Oregon Ducks to win the 2014 national championship of college football. Here we are five months later and Oregon is on the doorstep of achieving those dreams and aspirations for the first time in their program’s history.
I don’t believe Oregon will come this far with a once in a lifetime type player in Marcus Mariota and lose basically a home game in the Rose Bowl. The Ducks’ faithful should be out in full force and any slight advantage like that could be huge in a pressure packed game like we will see Thursday.
This game has all the makings of a classic as I mentioned earlier, so who comes out on top and will play for the 2014 national title on January 12, 2015?
I believe the Oregon Ducks find a way to use their explosive offense and underrated defense, led by the front four, to hand Florida State their first loss since the 2012 season. The Ducks’ speed and tempo will be something the Seminoles haven’t seen before. Oregon will use the perimeter and edges of the field to display that speed against a powerful front seven of Florida State to take control of this game. The Ducks’ speed will be the key factor in this game and the leadership of Mariota will reign supreme in the historic Rose Bowl.
I have the Oregon Ducks defeating the Florida State Seminoles 41-31 in the first ever College Football Playoff game. It will be an amazing scene with two amazing teams that have shown what college football is all about this season.
A new era in college football is officially here and I couldn’t think of a better place to start a historic moment like this than in the Rose Bowl. The Ducks soar to a victory on Thursday and make their first national title appearance since the 2010 season. The moment we have all been waiting for this season and many before is finally here and at last we can say, “Let the College Football Playoff begin.”