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Sunday, 4 January 2015

Oregon vs. Ohio State: Examining The Game Within The Game

We are just about a week away from the first ever national championship in the College Football Playoff era. We witnessed two historic games on New Year’s Day in the first ever semi-final day in college football’s new era.

We saw Florida State’s 29 game win streak snapped in dominating fashion by the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks speed, combined with Florida State’s inability to hang on to the football, led to a 59-20 blowout of the defending national champion Seminoles.

In the second game we saw heavy favorites Alabama lose to a third string quarterback Cardale Jones and Ohio State. The Buckeyes used a pick six to gain a double digit lead and were able to hang on down the stretch thanks to some stout defense. Ohio State beat the Tide 42-35 and punched their ticket to the first ever College Football Playoff championship game.

We now have a rematch of a Rose Bowl from a few years back between the Oregon Ducks and Ohio State Buckeyes. It will be a matchup that offers a lot of speed and athletic skill players on offense. These two teams tend to play at a high rate of speed on offense and utilize their skill guys better than most teams in the country.

We are still a week away from these two teams battling it out on the field in Arlington, Texas, but let’s take an early look at some key points to look for in this contest.

First and most importantly, I feel the challenge of Ohio State’s defense adapting to the warp speed pace at which Oregon plays at will be very important. This was an issue for Florida State and I believe it will be for Ohio State as well. Ohio State, much like Florida State, plays in a league where opposing offenses aren’t nearly as explosive as Oregon.

Florida State did not see an offense nearly as explosive as Oregon at any point in 2013 and once they ran into Oregon it became a blowout. Oregon’s speed was the difference in the second half and it wore down the Seminoles’ defense. The Buckeyes, who play in the Big Ten, see little to no offensive threats posed to them during the season.

I feel this will come back to haunt them against Oregon, much like it did Florida State. The Ohio State front four is one of the best in the country and they will have to shine in this game if they have any shot at beating Oregon.

Ohio State will have to generate pressure on Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. If Mariota has time to make decisions in the downfield passing game he will shred the Ohio State secondary apart. He was able to do this to Florida State and if given time he will do the same to the Buckeyes.  

I think as we begin to think about this matchup this will be a very important area of the game. Oregon’s speed is scary at times and when they score, they score in bunches and fast. The Ducks are on the verge of winning their first national title ever in college football and their speed will have to lead them to that elusive title.

We are a week away from history in the world of college football and it can’t come soon enough for Ohio State and Oregon. I will provide more analysis leading up to the big game, including the ultimate prediction and how I see the game playing out. It’s been a great season and the ultimate prize and contest is yet to come.


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