National Championship: Ducks v Buckeyes

Alan McGonigle, Sports Writer

The CFP National Championship will be in Dallas at AT&T Stadium at 8:30 Monday night. The two teams playing in this marquee match-up are The Oregon Ducks and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

First, lets back up a little and see how these teams got here. Lets start with the Oregon Ducks.  Heisman winning QB Marcus Mariota took the ball against the defending national champions Florida State. Although it started out as close game, Oregon’s fast paced tempo got the best of the Noles. Oregon rallied in the 2nd half to outscore FSU by a 41-7 margin. Multiple turnovers by FSU’s Dalvin Cook caused Oregon to stretch their lead. Also, there was that odd play when FSU QB Jameis Winston threw the ball behind him, causing him to be the laughing stock of the internet for quite a while. Eventually Oregon won the game by a waxing of 59-20 to move on to this finale.

Now lets look at the Ohio State side. Injuries to the top two QB’s on Ohio State’s depth chart gave the Buckeyes no choice but to start 3rd string QB Cardale Jones against favorites and No.1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide came sprinting out to a 21-6 lead against Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes. But, good plays by the defense and nice completions by Jones lead the buckeyes to an insane upset over the Crimson Tide with a scoreline of 42-35.

And now here we are, less than a week away from the inaugural playoff final. Both teams are well deserving to be here and the game should be good. But there are certain factors that each team holds which could be the key to a national title for their respective schools.

To begin, the tempo of each team. Oregon by far is the better team tempo wise. Oregon runs a no-huddle offense which is a series of plays that require little delay between snaps of the ball. Oregon is 2nd in the nation in time between each snap with a time of 23.2 seconds from the whistle to the next snap of the ball. Ohio State used to run a fast-paced offense like this but could not keep up the pace after the loss of 1st string QB Braxton Miller. There are not many teams that can keep up with these two teams’ tempos. If Ohio State wants any chance of winning this game, they have to keep up with Oregon’s insanely fast tempo that made FSU press the self-destruct button on themselves. Their tempo is a killer, causing teams to lose star players due to fatigue.

The next big factor is the coaching. Ohio State has a huge advantage over Oregon on this. This is due to Urban Meyer’s natural ability to win. There is no doubt about it, he won two national titles with Tim Tebow and UF. If the lead stretches a tad too much, Meyer will know what a comeback will take. As for the Oregon side, they do not know the ecstatic feeling of winning a national title. Coach Mark Helfrich is only a 2nd year coach and has not won a national title. In fact UO has never won a national title in football.

Last but not least, the deciding factor will be the defense. Oregon ranks 77th in the nation in total defense. But, Ohio State ranks 29th in total defense. Ohio State has the upper hand over Oregon on this but you cannot count out the Ducks. In the last four games the ducks have played, they have given up 20 or less points per game.

Overall, the Ducks have a red-hot, explosive offense that tears up teams. The Buckeyes have a good offense, but on game night the defense will have to carry the team. The Ducks are the favorites for this game by seven points but Urban Meyer has never lost a game when he is the underdog.

Ohio State needs to cope with Oregon’s tempo and relax and make an attempt to contain Marcus Mariota which will be quite hard. Overall, it is too hard to predict a game like this. Both teams have their specialties and weaknesses. Oregon has the advantage on offense but the Ohio State side has the advantage on defense. It should be a game for the ages and will be a great one to keep your eye on.