Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Ohio State Tops Oregon in National Championship
"The chase is complete"
Those were the words uttered by Ohio State coach Urban Meyer on a confetti flooded field immediately after his team defeated the Oregon Ducks 42-20 in AT&T Stadium on Monday night.
The Buckeyes captured the inaugural College Football Playoff championship, rolling over a favored Oregon squad on their way to reclaiming it's spot in the promise land, winning their first national championship since 2002.
"These guys accepted their final mission and did it" said Meyer, who won his third national championship (his first two with the University of Florida) while also becoming the second coach in NCAA history to win a national championship with two different schools, trumping fellow record holder Nick Saban and his Alabama Crimson Tide in the semi-final game just 11 days prior to Monday night.
Oregon, who were considered favorites practically everywhere but in the state of Ohio, looked as if they were going to run up and down the field all night on the arms and legs of quarterback Marcus Mariota, after the games first drive in which the Ducks marched 75 yards to open the game with a touchdown.
However, Oregon's offense was shut down for majority of the remainder of the game with only 3/13 drives ending with a score. More horridly, the Ducks simply couldn't convert on third down, going 2-12 on the night. A large contributor being Oregon beat themselves with mental errors and key dropped passes across the field, the Ducks just weren't able to establish rhythm on offense or in the red zone, scoring only 1/4 times when traveled inside the 20 yard line.
All in all, the Buckeyes, due to fantastic scheming and fundamentally sound football, were able to do what few teams have accomplished: Make Marcus Mariota look human.
To the credit of Mariota, who threw for 333 yards and 2 touchdowns with 39 yards on the ground, the quarterback should receive little to no blame for the teams' poor performance, although the reigning Heisman trophy winner just couldn't consistently break the Ohio State defense. The loss for Mariota will count as the 6th Heisman trophy winner to lose in the national championship game. The last three losses by a Heisman winner has come at the hands of: An Urban Meyer coached team.
To be a championship team, your defense should compliment your offense (and vise-versa) and OSU did just that. The Buckeyes, thanks in part to running back Ezekiel Elliot's 246 yards (a title game record) and four touchdowns (another record), were able to shake off four turnovers in six drives on their way to dropping 42 points on a Oregon defense that hasn't allowed that many points since November 23rd of the 2013 season, where they were upset by the Arizona Wildcats.
The scoring outburst was lead by third string quarterback Cardale Jones, who went 16/23 for 242 yards and a touchdown, with 38 yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground as well. A big, physical presence on the field, Jones isn't afraid to dash outside the pocket and power his way through defenders.
"Long story short, we're not supposed to be here" said Jones after the game. Cardale, who didn't take any meaningful snaps until called upon to start the Big Ten championship game, is correct. After losing fellow quarterbacks Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett along with dropping a game to Virginia Tech early on, few people visualized OSU doing any damage for the rest of the year.
While one quarterback celebrated, the other reflected on his season.
"We fought through a lot of stuff" said Mariota. "We ended up short tonight, but that shouldn't take away from what we were able to do this year."
Coming off a tough loss, Marcus faces another tough challenge in deciding whether or not to enter in the 2015 NFL Draft. If chosen to go, Mariota is a heavy favorite to be drafted with the number one overall pick.
Speaking of tough choices, Ohio State has three quarterbacks who are more than capable of getting the job done, and only one starting spot. With the uncertainties of the future resting within the two powerhouse programs, one thing is for certain: The present belongs to the Ohio State Buckeyes.