Two college teams, The Ohio State Buckeyes and Oregon Ducks are about to play for the biggest title in college football, the National Championship. The two teams are scheduled to go head-to-head on Monday, January 12, kick-off set for 8:30 pm on ESPN. The game will be played at AT & T Stadium in
Oregon once favored by seven points over Ohio State is now favored by only six points, but the Buckeyes have already proved to the football world they do not and will not give up. According to one Oregon Duck player, that is exactly what Florida State did in the Rose Bowl when they lost to Oregon, 20-59. The Ducks center, Hroniss Grasu tweeted “(Ohio State) won’t quit on a play. Florida State, they’d stop after one move. These guys, they won’t quit on a play.”
Ohio State did not give up when their top quarterback Braxton Miller was ruled out for the entire season before even playing a regular season game. Miller was injured in practice after declaring he was one-hundred percent healthy following past injuries. Miller was already being called a Heisman Trophy contender. With Miller out, the quarterback position was then given to J.T. Barrett. Barrett a redshirt freshman led the team to eleven wins before he too was injured during the OSU-Michigan game. Again, the Buckeyes had to change gears and rely on their third string quarterback, Cardale Jones a redshirt sophomore.
Jones put his name on the map when he helped lead the Buckeyes past Wisconsin, 59-0 in the Big Ten championship game. Just days later the college football selection committee chose Ohio State as the fourth seed alongside number one Alabama, number two Oregon and number three Florida State. OSU bumped TCU from the top four after they had been previously ranked number three. The committee said it was not TCU that lost the spot it was the Buckeyes that won the spot. The committee’s decision did not come without much criticism, but it is believed they made the right decision.
The Buckeyes also did not give up when they were matched up to play the number one team, Alabama Crimson Tide. The two teams met in the Allstate Sugar Bowl and Alabama was favored by nine points. After falling behind to the Crimson Tide 21-6, the Buckeyes answered and took the lead never looking back. Ohio State beat Alabama 42-35.
Not only was OSU an underdog in the bowl game against Alabama but also against the Wisconsin Badgers. The Bucks were able to defeat both teams even though both squads had top-rated players. For the Badgers, running back Melvin Gordon III was viewed as a Heisman Trophy contender before the season even started. The Buckeyes were able to hold Gordon to just 76-yards, his second worst game of the season. The Wisconsin running back had decided to bypass his senior year and declared for the NFL draft.
During the Alabama game, OSU had to face wide receiver Amari Cooper a Heisman Trophy finalist. Cooper had a standout year winning the Belenikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver, named SEC Offensive Player of the Year and selected to several All-American teams. In the Sugar Bowl, the Buckeyes were able to hold Cooper to nine catches for 72-yards and two touchdowns which was mundane compared to past games for Cooper. The Crimson Tide receiver announced he has declared for the NFL draft.
For the third game in a row, Ohio State will be facing a Heisman Trophy candidate; except Oregon does not just have a finalist, they have the Heisman Trophy winner for their quarterback, Marcus Mariota. The Duck player is the most decorated player in school history and is the first Heisman winner from Hawaii. The task for the Buckeyes will be figuring out how to stop the quarterback and that starts by slowing down the fast-paced Oregon offense.
One advantage the Buckeyes may have is the number of hours they are able to practice. Since Ohio State’s semester has not yet started, they are not limited on how long they are able to practice. Oregon on the other hand has already started back to school and cannot exceed NCAA’s 20 hour per week practice rule.
Another advantage Ohio State may have is one of Oregon’s top receivers will not be playing in the championship game. Darren Carrington a redshirt freshman failed a NCAA drug test and team sources say he tested positive for marijuana. In the Rose Bowl game against Florida State, Carrington caught seven passes for 165-yards and two touchdowns.
It is a Midwest team versus a team from the West Coast, a duck versus a buck, and a Heisman winner quarterback versus a third string quarterback but it is a game where only one school will win the title. Will it be the Bucks or the Ducks?