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Ohio State dominates Oregon for National Championship

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.

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Ohio State stuns Alabama

Ohio State - Sugar Bowl 2

With last night’s 42-35 stunning win over Alabama, the Buckeyes pulled off one of those wins that shook up the balance of power in college football. Just like 12 years ago when Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes ended Miami’s dynasty (they haven’t been the same since!), this year’s squad led by Urban Meyer finally helped knock the mighty SEC off its pedestal.

Here are some observations from the game:

– Finally, we have a real playoff that lets these teams settle the argument on the field. Where are all the BCS defenders today? Had we had the same system this year, we’d be stuck with an overrated Alabama team facing off against Jameis Winston and a very fortunate Florida State team. With the playoff, both Oregon and Ohio State got the opportunity to show that rankings can’t be a substitute for actual games. Eight teams would be even better, as I felt both TCU and Baylor were deserving of a shot as well, but four is much better than two!

– I have to admit I thought the Buckeyes could be done when they fell behind 21-6. The momentum was clearly with Alabama, and the Buckeyes had made critical mistakes in not scoring in the red zone and then coughing up turnovers. But the Buckeyes were moving the ball, and fortunately Cardale Jones came up big right when the Buckeyes needed him. Ohio State was facing a third and long deep in their own end, when Jones stepped up with a great throw for s first down conversion. Once the passing game opened up, then Alabama couldn’t stop the Buckeye offense and everything changed.

– For all the talk about Cardale Jones being a third-string quarterback, he’s frankly one of the most talented quarterbacks in the country with his size and golden arm. The Buckeyes were underdogs for good reason, as Jones’s inexperience was an issue up against Nick Saban’s defense. But smart analysts pointed out that his arm could change things against an Alabama secondary that was vulnerable to big plays. And that’s exactly what happened. Once Alabama had to contend with Cardale Jones throwing downfield, then they had their hands full as Ohio State was also running the ball well with Ezekiel Elliott. Urban Meyer deserves a ton of credit for coaching up Jones and getting him ready, but this Tressel recruit has an NFL-caliber arm, and with him playing like this the Buckeyes may be even better than they were with J.T. Barrett.

– The biggest revelation of the evening may have been the Ohio State defense, with Darron Lee leading the way. The young linebacker was everywhere last night, and that’s the speed that really mattered last night. The Buckeyes are loaded with athletes on defense. They’re young as hell and they’re coming off a disastrous 2013 season when they couldn’t stop anybody, but not the kids are growing up and they came up big last night. It’s this talent on defense that gives Ohio State a real shot against the great Marcus Mariota and the Oregon offense. We know the Buckeyes can score, but they may have the best defense Oregon will have faced all year. That one should be fun!

– Obviously, the Ohio State offensive line played a huge role as well. Those kids are also young, and they were overmatched early in the season. But they grew up quickly and last night they dominated against mighty Alabama.

– Finally, let’s not kid ourlseves – the SEC isn’t going anywhere. Despite their miserable performance during this bowl season, the SEC is still loaded with talent and great coaches. But last night’s win for the Buckeyes coupled with an SEC West meltdown will finally end some of the ridiculous hype where you had idiots like Skip Bayless saying four SEC West teams belonged in the playoff. Urban Meyer is leading a resurgent Big Ten that had huge wins by Wisconsin and Michigan State, and Meyer made sure his players knew about those games heading into last night. With Ohio State’s talent and youth, the Buckeyes will be the team getting the benefit of the doubt in the near future, regardless of what happens against Oregon.

Will the Browns consider Jimmy Garoppolo in the draft?

Some just asked Tony Grossi and interesting question on Twitter – will the Browns consider Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the 2014 NFL Draft? Grossi thinks he can be a developmental QB picked in the middle rounds. Digging a little, I found this article that has a great background on Garopollo and some interesting peices of information:

Garoppolo’s performance against San Diego State led to this proclamation from Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who watched tape of the EIU-San Diego State game before his team faced the Aztecs early in the season: “Eastern has really one of the best quarterbacks I’ve ever seen. I didn’t even know who he was until I watched him. He’s a great player.”

His production is unrivaled at EIU, which has a storied QB history. The school’s single-season TD record had been 34, held by former EIU star Tony Romo. Garoppolo has 116 career TD passes, 31 more than Romo’s previous school record. In addition, Garoppolo passed New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton to become the school’s career leader in completions this season.

That’s quite an endoresement from Urban Meyer, even if Meyer is probably a better evaluator of college quarterbacks than NFL quarterbacks. Still, EIU also produced Tony Romo, so there is certainly precedent for picking a quarterback from this school.

Mike Lombardi seems like the kind of guy who likes to find hidden gems in the draft. With Garopollo standing at 6′ 3″ and 222 pounds, he certainly has the stature to be considered. Let’s see how he does at the combine and how that affects his draft stock.

Urban Meyer to the rescue

Former Florida head football coach Urban Meyer attends a news conference naming him the new head coach at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio November 28, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

All the rumors turned out to be true.

We’ll have much more to say about this, but Urban Meyer hit it out of the park in the news conference where he was introduced as the new head football coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Fans are excited, as we should be.

Urban Meyer close to a deal with Ohio State

University of Florida head coach Urban Meyer stands on the sideline during the second quarter of their Southeastern Conference NCAA football game against the University of Georgia in Jacksonville, Florida October 31, 2009. REUTERS/Daron Dean (UNITED STATES SPORT FOOTBALL)

Everyone is reporting it now. SPORTSbyBROOKS.com got things going with a detailed report on discussions between Meyer and Ohio State. There was nothing new about the rumors of course, but Brooks had details on the status of the discussions. SI linked to it, and then ESPN felt compelled to ask Meyer during the Michigan game yesterday about the rumor. Meyer issue a non-denial “denial” that only fueled the story even more. ESPN then issued their own report on the discussions between Meyer and Ohio State, but unlike SI they wouldn’t credit Brooks.

Bottom line – this looks like it’s going to happen. Luke Fickell isn’t going to be the head coach next year, and the Buckeyes have clearly targeted Meyer, and he seems to want the job.

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