It was a wild game, and the Buckeyes made things interesting with four frustrating turnovers, but Ohio State steamrolled Oregon on its way to the National Championship in the inaugural College Football Playoff season. With a day to let things sink in, here are some observations:
- Many will justifiably cite Ezekiel Elliott and the offensive line when explaining the physical domination Ohio State inflicted on Oregon, but as Urban Meyer stressed after the game the defense was just as impressive. The bottom line is that Oregon hadn’t faced a defense as this physical and fast all year long. We heard a ton about Oregon’s tempo, but this team relies on yards after the catch along with Marcus Mariota using his speed along with his arm. But with Ohio State’s front seven along with defensive backs who can tackle, Oregon wasn’t able to get those easy yards after catch that they got against less talented teams. We’ve seen Ohio State’s defense grow before our eyes, and youngsters like Joey Bosa and Darron Lee were too much for Oregon. The result was an Oregon offense that was frustrated all night long. They couldn’t gain much yardage on first down, and thus ended up with a miserable third down conversation rate as they rarely had third and short. Also, Mariota wasn’t able to break any long runs, and he often got pummeled when he tried to run.