Oregon-Ohio State National Title Game: Five Things To Know
While this is probably not the game everyone dreamed of at the beginning of the college football season, but nonetheless, it is still a great matchup between two solid teams.
While Oregon appears to have run through everyone except Arizona (the one blemish on the schedule), Ohio State still poses as a real threat to win the national title.
Urban Meyer and his legacy of winning in his home state could become the main focal point of this game, taking away from the potentially historic game for Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota. Playing on a neutral field as the one in Arlington could make this one for the ages.
Here are five things to know about this game.
MORE TIME TO PREPARE
I said a couple of weeks ago that given more than a few days to game plan, Urban Meyer is a dangerous man and his team could beat anyone. Now, Meyer has had 10 more days to prepare the Buckeyes for the showdown with Oregon. Still, don’t bet against him.
According to Fox Sports, the opening line has Oregon listed as a 7-point favorite vs. the Buckeyes in the national title game, though that might not mean too much. Consider the Buckeyes have opened as underdogs in the last two games as well. Wisconsin was initially favored by three points and got smoked 59-0 for the conference crown. Against ‘Bama, the Buckeyes opened as 9 1/2-point underdogs, only to pull out a 42-35 win over the Tide.
INJURIES MOUNTING FOR DUCKS
Oregon was already without All-American corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who is done for the season due to a serious knee injury. Now, they might have to play for a national title without wide receiver Devon Allen, too.
Allen suffered a right knee injury returning the game’s opening kickoff vs. Florida State and is expected to miss the Ohio State game, a source told Feldman. Allen has the most receiving touchdowns (7) and second-most receiving yards (684) for the Ducks this season. He also returns kickoffs for the team.
This is certainly a case of “next man up.”
When the game starts on Monday night, one of the greatest to ever coach the game will face an upstart just getting his feet wet.
Ohio State’s Urban Meyer is already considered one of the game’s premier head coaches. He won two BCS national titles while at Florida (2006 and ’08) and has gone 37-3 in three years at OSU, capturing the Big Ten title this season. Three national championships split between two schools would elevate his legacy and put him squarely on the road to the Hall of Fame.
Oregon’s Mark Helfrich will be manning the other sideline. The second-year head coach took over for Philadelphia Eagles boss Chip Kelly and the program hasn’t missed a beat. Helfrich has compiled a 24-3 record in Eugene and already has a Pac-12 championship under his belt after leading the Ducks to the top this season. Could a national title in Year Three launch him into the upper echelon of the coaching ranks?
When all is said and done, can a Heisman Trophy winner play well in the national title game? Jameis Winston rallied FSU back to a win last season. Now it is Marcus Mariota’s turn.
Mariota will go to Texas as the more proven quarterback by far. The 2014 Heisman Trophy winner has played 40 games for the Ducks and this season has thrown 40 touchdowns against just four interceptions. The junior, who may be playing his last college game, is coming off a Rose Bowl performance in which he threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another TD in the Ducks' 59-20 win. Speed, power and creative playmaking ability. The complete package.
MEYER REACHES PINNACLE
The greatest story that could come out of the first year of the College Football Playoff is that the committee got it right. Ohio State beat Alabama and by doing so, proved it belonged in the national title game.
The next great thing would be that after two seasons where Meyer was almost unbeatable (sans two losses last season) in his third season where a Buckeye team went 13-1, he finally did the one thing he always dreamed of – he won a national title in Columbus like his idol Woody Hayes.
Last week, Oregon looked unbeatable in the 59-20 win over FSU, but the time off, coupled with lost momentum may give Ohio State an edge.
And if not, I would not bet against Meyer – especially when he is an underdog.
OHIO STATE 43 OREGON 41