This isn’t the matchup that everyone was expecting, but that doesn’t mean it’s the not the right one. Both of these teams won in their semifinal matchups with zero questions about the validity of those wins. Oregon is a -7 point favorite against Ohio State for the College Football Playoff Championship Game at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Oregon Ducks dominated Florida State in the semifinals and a lot of people predicted that to happen. The Seminoles finally met their match and didn’t have enough luck to pull out a win. The Ducks are led by Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, who carved up FSU as expected. He threw for 338 yards and two TDs and also ran for 62 yards and another TD. It wasn’t an amazing Game by any means from him, but Oregon outclassed FSU as an entire team in the matchup.
Thomas Tyner was unstoppable in the run Game as well going for 124 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries. Maybe the bigger factor for Oregon, was their bend-but-don’t-break-defense. They allowed 528 yards to Jameis Winston and company, but forced five turnovers (Four fumbles), which eventually ended up determining the Game after it was 18-13 at halftime.
The Ohio State win was a little more unexpected as not many thought the Buckeyes should even be in the Playoff. Instead, they played exactly how they closed out the season and beat Alabama on both sides of the ball as a 7.5-point underdog.
The Crimson Tide got off to a 21-6 lead, but that was in part to a couple turnovers by OSU. When things evened out and after some Bama turnovers, the Buckeyes scored 28 straight points and didn’t look back. Running back Ezekiel Elliott was the biggest factor rushing for 230 yards and a couple touchdowns. Those are extremely impressive numbers against the Alabama run defense. Cardale Jones did a respectable job in his second career start and didn’t make too many mistakes after the early ones. He threw for 243 yards a TD and rushed for 43 yards more.
Both of these teams beat Michigan State this year and that was their only similar opponent. They beat the Spartans in similar fashion, although OSU’s win may have been more impressive on the road. Oregon beat MSU in their second Game of the year at home 46-27, after being down at halftime. Ohio State travelled to MSU in early November and won 49-37 after being down in the first quarter.
Ohio State’s defense has not been overly exceptional this year, but they have shown in wins against Wisconsin and Alabama in their last two Games, that they can step up to the situation. Oregon is obviously a different task as they run so many plays and are led by a Heisman winner.
Mariota and his slew of speedy running backs and wide receivers will be a new test for the Buckeyes. There’s a reason the over/under for this Game is set at 75 points in most places. Oregon will Scoretheir usual points, and on the other end, Ohio State should Scoreas well.
Turnovers will be important as usual, but maybe more so for Cardale Jones because Oregon takes great care of the ball.
The Buckeyes will lean once again on their running Game behind Elliott, but if the Ducks get out to a decent lead, the Game will fall to Jones and the passing Game. But that doesn’t mean the Game is over. Jones has shown that he can throw the ball just fine, especially to deep target Devin Smith and other targets Michael Thomas and Jalin Marshall.
The coaching edge goes to Urban Meyer based on experience alone, as Mark Helfrich is only in his second season as a head coach. Meyer has had great Game plans this season in OSU’s biggest Games and that could play a role here. He’ll have a different strategy to try and contain Mariota.
So far, so good for the College Football Playoff as BCS would have had Florida State vs. Alabama in the title Game.
This should be another fun one between two hot teams and a great end to the college football season.
The Buckeyes are 9-2-1 ATS in their last 12 vs. the Pac-12 and are 4-1 ATS in their last five non-Conference Games (non-cover was Virginia Tech loss). The Ducks have covered in Four straight bowl Games and are 20-7 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
Our Score Prediction Model predicts the following scores using different time frame parameters:
Using Full Season Data – Oregon 39 Ohio State 36
Using Last 7 Games – Oregon 42 Ohio State 37
Using Last 4 Games only – Oregon 38 Ohio State 29