No. 2 Oregon Ducks (13-1 SU, 10-4 ATS) vs. No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (13-1 SU, 9-5 ATS)
College Football Playoffs National Championship Game
Date and Time: Monday January 12th, 2015. 8:30PM EST
Where: AT&T Stadium Arlington, T.X.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ORE -7.5/OSU +7.5
Over/Under Total: 74.5
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The inaugural College Football Playoffs will come to a close on Monday January 12th when the no. 2 Oregon Ducks meet the no. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes inside AT&T Stadium in the National Championship Game. For the first time since 2005, an SEC team will not be participating in college footballs National Championship Game. Instead, two teams with intriguing storylines will be battling for college footballs grandest prize. After losing to Auburn in the 2010 BCS title game, the Ducks return to the title game as they continue to seek their first National Championship in school history. Meanwhile Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer looks to become just the 2nd coach in college football history to lead two different teams to National Championship victories.
On New Years Day, the Ducks obliterated Florida State 59-20 in the playoffs semifinal with one of their most complete performances of the year. At halftime, Oregon held just a slim 18-13 lead. However the Ducks offense, which is built for speed, quickly turned the game into a blowout in the 3rd quarter by scoring 27 points in the first 13 minutes of the 2nd half. The Ducks offense consistently blew away Florida States talented defense with 639 total yards and 301 yards on the ground. The Ducks tempo and speed has been unstoppable since their loss to Arizona back in the first week of October. Since that loss, the Ducks offense has clicked and posted incredible numbers against opponents. In fact, the Ducks have scored a minimum of 42 points in each of their last 9 games while covering the spread in each of their last 9 games as well. For those reasons, Oregon is listed as rather sizeable 7.5 favorites against Ohio State when both teams meet next Monday inside AT&T Stadium.
However, Ohio State is very familiar with the big underdog role and they will not play into the Oregon hype. The Buckeyes just barely made it into the playoffs by leap frogging both Baylor and TCU during the final week of the season thanks to Ohio States huge 52-0 victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. If not for that decisive victory, Ohio State would have never made it to the 4 team playoffs and many felt the Buckeyes were undeserving as the 4th seeded team. The Buckeyes entered their Sugar Bowl matchup against Alabama as near double digit underdogs in a game where nobody gave them much of a chance to win. Instead Ohio State shocked the college football world with their 42-35 upset over Alabama to move into the National Championship Game. Even though I picked the Buckeyes to cover the 10 point spread in our Sugar Bowl preview, I was still a bit surprised to see Ohio State win the game outright. However, I saw a team in the Sugar Bowl that is capable of even bigger accomplishments.
The Buckeyes overcame a slow start against Alabama where they trailed 21-6. However, they really outplayed the #1 team in the land on both sides of the football from the 2nd quarter through the final whistle. The Buckeyes defense was able to keep pressure on Alabama quarterback Blake Sims to force turnovers and they come up with big stops when needed to get off the field. Meanwhile the Ohio State offense proved to be as dangerous as ever even with their 3rd starting quarterback of the season in Cardale Jones. Jones did enough in the passing game to allow room for running back Ezekiel Elliot who racked up 230 yards and two touchdowns against one of the best rush defenses in the country. I know most are wanting to crown Oregon as the National Champions due to the way they have consistently blown out opponents. However this Ohio State team is good enough on both sides of the ball to seriously threaten the Ducks voyage for a National Title. As we have seen all season, Ohio State knows how to overcome adversity and find ways to play their best football when their backs are against the wall.
So what does that say about this years National Championship Game? I believe it means we have the recipe for one hell of a football game. Lets face the facts, Oregon is going to score points. The question is how many? Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for 338 yards with two scores against Florida State while he ran for 62 yards with another touchdown. Mariota is the heart of this Oregon offense and Ohio State must do a good job of getting pressure on him as they did against Blake Sims. Otherwise, it is going to be a long afternoon. However, if the Buckeyes can just limit the big plays and find a way to make a few stops. Ohio State does have an offense with the capability of posting big offensive numbers to win this game in a shootout. Bookmakers have the total for this game set at a lofty 74.5 which backs that theory. The biggest obstacle for Ohio State will be getting another huge effort from their running game. The Buckeyes ran for nearly 300 yards against a very good Alabama run defense and they must get another similar effort to keep Cardale Jones in comfortable situations which will be critical to keeping their upset chances alive.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The difference in this years Oregon team is not on the offensive side of the ball, but rather their defense has been really good. I think the Ducks defense is the difference in this game. Not only will they get the stops, but they will get the turnovers to pull away late in typical 2nd half Ducks fashion. Take Oregon -7.5 in a 41-28 type of game.