A playoff format for college football was a long time coming, and it didn’t disappoint. It reenergized the bowl season and brought in more fans to the sport. Both the Sugar and Rose Bowl lived up to the excitement and provided exciting atmospheres for the semifinal showdowns. What now awaits is football immortality at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
— Nike Football (@usnikefootball) January 5, 2015
Why Oregon Will Win:
Since their loss in early October to Arizona, the Ducks have been one of college football’s best teams, playing in arguably the best conference in college football (Pac-12 is 6-2 in bowl games so far). What we saw last Thursday evening in Pasadena is what can happen when the Ducks are playing at their best. Their “good” is better than any other team’s “good”. If they play Ohio State the same way they did Florida State, the championship game will be over by the end of the third quarter.
Florida State doesn’t have a great defense, but they are better than the 59 they gave up in Pasadena. Only two teams on Oregon’s schedule this year allowed the Ducks to score over 59 points, South Dakota (62) and Cal (59). But what happened to the ‘Noles is exactly what can take place when you don’t take care of the ball and the Oregon offense establishes its tempo. The quick tempo forces teams to play at an uncomfortable pace and wears the defense down as the game progresses. Combine that tempo with the run/pass balance, their offense can’t really be stopped, only slowed down. The Ducks combined for 639 yards of total offense against the Seminoles – 338 through the air and another 301 on the ground.
If Oregon can produce anything similar to their Rose Bowl output against the Buckeyes, they will be crowned college football’s best.
Why Ohio St. Will Win:
The magic has led them to Dallas, so why does it need to stop now? Most sports fans out of the state of Ohio didn’t give the Buckeyes a chance against Alabama, Vegas after all had Ohio State as nearly a 10-point underdog. Ohio State was down to their third QB of the season, Cardale Jones, following injuries to Braxton Miller and JT Barrett. But Jones, a sophomore from Cleveland, isn’t playing like a third-string back-up, and that’s why the Buckeyes have knocked off Wisconsin and Alabama in the last two games.
The big play fuels this offense, and they have thrived on it with Jones who has a big time arm and solid mobility for a 6’5, 250 pounder. Alabama didn’t have the corners to run with the Buckeye wideouts, Wisconsin didn’t have the ability to run with them either. If the Duck corners cannot keep up as well, the Buckeyes will continue to put points on the board in bunches. Points will have to be plentiful if the Buckeyes want to win this one, and they showed last Thursday night that they are never out of a game when they can rip off big plays.
Ohio State has playmakers at every position, much like Oregon. If you need evidence, look no further then the dime that WR Evan Spencer tossed in the Sugar Bowl. The creativity in the Ohio State play calling can keep the Ducks on their heels and keep Buckeye drives alive. Urban Meyer and staff will find ways to get their best athletes the ball and let them make plays. The depth of talent on this Buckeye roster is enough to make even the best teams pause.
On defense, a strong front seven for the Buckeyes will be relied upon to get stops and slow down Mariota. Oregon is great at keeping teams on the field and sustaining drives, and this is exactly the challenge for the Buckeye defense. Force three and outs, and the Buckeyes can keep Mariota where he can’t hurt them, on the sideline. If they do this well, it will be the Buckeyes raising that national championship trophy.
Some Football Food For Thought:
The College Football Playoff Committee should probalby take a lot of learnings from watching the bowl games. Below were my three big takeaways watching the bowl season unfold.
- SEC West was Given Too Much Credit – Two bowl wins by Arkansas and Texas A&M was all the positivity the SEC West took from the Bowl Season. Losses by Auburn, Missisippi State, Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU didn’t convey any idea of dominance by this division.
- FSU was Never that Good – Florida State didn’t have a great body of work, but they had an undefeated record. And that’s why they were taken to the playoff. What ensued was a 39-point beatdown that made them look out of their league. Going forward, the committee needs to rethink the way it looks at undefeated teams.
- TCU was the Correct #3 – TCU had put up 42 on the No. 1 ranked scoring defense in Ole Miss by the early third quarter. They completely dominated the Peach Bowl from start to finish. One week before the final playoff rankings, the Horned Frogs were the nation’s No. 3 team. It should have stayed that way.