Buckeyes victorious in first College Football Playoff National Championship
By: Andrew Ziemba
Well folks, I’ll be the first to admit it, I was wrong.
I had faith in Oregon’s offense to dominate, but in the end, Ohio State’s solid defensive play kept that high-powered machine off the field. When OSU’s offense was on the field, it was practically a one man show, starring superstar running back Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott scored more touchdowns on his own than any other entity in this competition, outscoring both his own team and their opponents. Averaging 6.8 yards per carry, Elliott managed to squash any hopes for an Oregon victory virtually every time he was on the field. His final stat line was 36 carries for 246 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Based purely on the first two drives of the game, you would never have been able to guess the eventual winner correctly.
Oregon marched 75 yards down the field and scored right off the bat. By comparison, OSU punted after 6 plays on their ensuing drive. Looking solely at those two drives, one would think Oregon had this game in the bag.
This was not the case however, as their next two possessions resulted in punts, while Ohio State’s next two possessions gave them touchdowns. Out of the 14 times they possessed the ball, Oregon only advanced 20+ yards 6 times, and only 3 of those possessions gained them any points (one field goal, two touchdowns). Ohio State had the ball 13 times, advancing 20+ yards 8 times, 6 of those times resulting in touchdowns.
I said in my game prediction that the defense that performed better would be that of the winning team, and even with the amazing performance of Elliott, OSU’s defense managed to keep Heisman-winner Marcus Mariota and his offense tame.
On the other side, Oregon’s defense managed to force fumbles and even produced an interception, but the offense simply could not capitalize. Mariota did not play terribly, however dropped passes and one poorly-timed interception prevented his offense from doing anything spectacular, as they are normally known to do. He still finished 24/37 for 333 yards and two touchdowns, by no means a poor performance.
His Buckeye counterpart, Cardale Jones, performed admirably as well, especially for a game in which rushing was the key to victory for his team. Jones finished 16/23 for 242 yards and 2 touchdowns, one on the ground and one through the air. Final score, #4 Ohio State Buckeyes 42, #2 Oregon Ducks 20.
Now that the game has been played, ESPN has released its “Way-Too-Early Top 25”. Ohio State is ranked 2nd overall, as they plan to return 7 starters on both offense and defense. Oregon is losing some key leaders, such as Mariota and CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (who did not play due to injury), but they still rank 5th at this juncture, returning 6 players on offense and 7 on defense.