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For the first time ever, college football implemented a four team playoff to determine the National Champion. Similarly to every other year, there were debates about which teams were deserving and which weren’t. Alabama, Oregon and Florida State were obvious choices but that fourth spot is where the water got messy. Ohio State, Texas Christian University, and Baylor were all fitting candidates for that final spot. Ohio State got the final spot and has proven they are worthy of it. So far in the playoffs, there have been no shortage of storylines or excitement.

In the round of four, two Heisman trophy winner quarterbacks went up against each other. The 2013 winner, Jameis Winston, had not lost a college football game in his two seasons as a starter. He led Florida State University to a victory in the National Championship game last year against Auburn. The 2014 winner, Marcus Mariota, has had a historically great season for the Oregon Ducks. Oregon was predicted to win but no one expected what happened. It wasn’t even close, a complete blowout. Mariota threw for two touchdowns and ran for one in a 59-20 domination.

 

In the other quarterfinals game, it pitted the two best college coaches against each other. Ohio State’s head coach, Urban Meyer has won two National Championships with the University of Florida. In his three years at OSU, he’s accumulated a record of 37-3 for a win percentage of .925. He’s trying to be the second coach to win two National Championships with different colleges. The only coach to accomplish that feat is Nick Saban, the man who will be standing opposite him on the sidelines. Saban won the National Championship in 2003 at LSU. Excluding this current season, Saban has led Alabama University to three championships in the past five years. Bama has been a dominant college force since Saban took over the helm. Alabama was predicted to win this game and got an early lead. But third string quarterback Cardale Jones led Ohio State to a strong second half and a win.

 

Oregon has arguably the best offense in college football. They run the spread offense. Just as it sounds, the goal is to spread the defense out and attack the gaping holes. Marcus Mariota has excelled at picking apart defenses. He seems to always make the smart play or throw. The team averages 311 passing yards a game, which is eleventh in the Football Subdivision. To go along with that, they are also averaging a little under 250 rushing yards per game. Oregon averages 553 yards total each game and that’s third in the FBS, out of 128 teams. The most impressive stat could be that they average to score 47.2 points a game. The Ducks have scored below 40 points only twice and over 50 five times. The key to this game will be if the potent offense can play as well as they have all season.

Ohio State has had a remarkable season and they’ve gone through more than their share of injuries. Senior quarterback Braxton Miller has received Heisman votes in the past, and was expected to be a candidate this year. But Miller hurt his shoulder and was out the whole season. Backup QB J.T. Barrett had a tremendous season as a fill in. He has accounted for 45 rushing and passing touchdowns and 4,366 all-purpose yards. In the last game of the season, before the Big Ten Championship Game, Barrett got tackled awkwardly and ended up breaking his ankle. The team’s original third string quarterback, Cardale Jones stepped up.

As the second string quarterback for the majority of the season, Jones actually got playing time in six consecutive games because the game was out of reach for the opponent. In those games he threw the ball only fourteen times, for eight completions and 111 yards. Jones started the past two games, the Big Ten Championship game and the one against Alabama, and he’s played unbelievably well. In those two games, Cardale Jones has averaged 250 passing yards and has thrown four TD passes. He’s also run the ball well. More importantly than that, Jones has looked comfortable playing against two of the best defenses in college football. Oregon’s defense is mediocre, so if Jones continues his great play, he may enter the draft.

 

Another important factor in this game will be Ohio State’s ability to run the ball. They currently rank tenth in the country, averaging 262.2 yards per game. Their run game has revolved around sophomore Ezekiel Elliot. Elliot has been dominant. Since November 8th, the past six games, he has totaled at least 90 yards every game. He’s averaging a tad over 150 yards rushing in those games. He’s also had nine touchdowns in those six games. More recently though, in Elliot’s last two games; he’s rushed for 450 yards and four touchdowns. He should have a big game again tonight because Oregon’s defense gives up over 150 running yards a game.

My prediction: For Oregon to have win this game, Marcus Mariota must have a big game…and he will. Mariota will throw for over 300 yards and account for 5 touchdowns, three passing and two rushing. Oregon running back Royce Freedman will have 75 yards and a touchdown. On the other side of the ball, Cardale Jones will have agood game, throwing for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Elliot will run for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. Oregon will be this year’s National Champion, winning 41-38.

Football