Substance won out over style in Monday night’s college football national championship game, proving that old-school football can still triumph over new-cool flash and dash.
Ohio State’s bulldozing of Oregon at the line of scrimmage enabled the Buckeyes to flex their way to a 42-20 victory to capture their sixth national championship and prevent the beginning of a Duck Dynasty.
Ohio State was thought to be the uninvited guest when the NCAA released its Final Four. Alabama and Oregon were virtual locks for the title game, but the Buckeyes sent their initial warning shot that they were a factor to be reckoned with when they overcame a 21-6 deficit to defeat mighty Alabama, 42-35.
If the country didn’t know who Ezekiel Elliott was before, it certainly does now. “Baby Marshawn” bulled his way to 246 yards and four touchdowns, displaying a relentless ferocity that had Oregon defenders shying away from trying to tackle him. The Buckeyes kept hitting the Ducks over the head with a counter play that Oregon simply couldn’t adjust to and if you take away the start, this game was totally lopsided.
The Ducks flew down the field unabated on their first possession, conjuring up memories of their crushing elimination of Florida State. But key dropped passes on subsequent possessions began to put doubt in the Ducks’ minds and turned Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota into the second-best quarterback on the field.
That’s because defensive-end-looking Cardale Jones, the second coming of Daunte Culpepper, outplayed the Ducks’ Golden Boy, pounding his way to key first downs and putting the ball on the money. Granted, he did have a couple of turnovers, but for the most part he looked cool, calm and collected even though he was starting for only the third time in his career.
Oregon came into the game as the chosen one. Its uniforms have caught the fancy of the nation and its breathtaking offensive scheme makes the game look as though it’s being viewed in fast forward. It’s all about speed with the Ducks, but stripped of that and they’re just another run-of-the-mill team. Speed didn’t kill on this night, speed was killed.
The Buckeyes’ blitzing defensive scheme took away the Ducks’ running game and Mariota found himself on his back on several occasions. Normally this season he enjoyed a sandwich and cup of coffee while surveying the field. While he did throw for 333 yards, he ran for only 39. Oregon as a team accumulated just 132 on the ground.
Ohio State, on the other hand, smashed its way to 296 yards on the ground and 242 through the air. Take away four turnovers and it was nearly a perfect game for the Buckeyes. Normally when a team has a 4-1 advantage in turnovers, it can’t lose. But the Ducks couldn’t take advantage, either stalling out or settling for field goals.
Urbran Meyer showed why he’s a Hall of Fame coach, outfoxing Oregon’s relatively unknown Mark Helfrich at every turn. Meyer has won everywhere he’s gone and this could be the start of something big. The Buckeyes are loaded with young players and may be the new Alabama.
By the way, wasn’t it a great night with little or no mention of the mighty SEC?