To say that a defensive line doesn’t make an impact on the outcome of a football game is an understatement, and to say that an offensive line is underrated is an even bigger statement. The Ohio State Buckeyes controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The front four of the Buckeyes defense put a tight hold on the Oregon interior running game not allowing the Ducks running attack to break any big runs. The usually unflappable up tempo offense of the Ducks was held in check to a mere sputter, and behind a stout aggressive offensive line Ezekiel Elliott and Cardale Jones rolled of the Ducks 42-20.
The Ducks, who thrive on quick strike big play offense saw their momentum come to what seem to be a screeching halt on their second and third possession after driving down the field for a touchdown on their first possession of the game. A 3rd and 3 pass by to Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was dropped by wider receiver Charles Nelson to keep the drive alive and possibly get fast pace Ducks rolling. Then on the next possession on a 3rd and 12 Mariota found a wide open Dwayne Stanford, who took his eye off the ball and watch the football fall off his fingertips. Momentum killers.
The Buckeyes would take advantage of what seem to be every opportunity they could from Oregon miscues. The Ducks could not. The two drop 3rd down passes by Oregon definitely changed the momentum of the game for the Buckeyes and game them confidence on defense that soon spurred n their offense. The Buckeyes scored two touchdowns after to the 3rd down drops, and suddenly the Ducks look like the team that was out of sorts. But you have to give it up to the defense for Ohio State; they tackled exceptionally well in the open field and kept containment on the Oregon running game and screen plays. Oregon was able to take advantage of turnovers in the semifinals against Florida State; not so much last night. The Ducks forced 4 turnovers on the Buckeyes that turned to only 10 points.
The key to the game other than the play of the offensive line of the Buckeyes; whose aggressive play began to wear down the defense front of the Ducks at the start of the 4th quarter; that spawned excellent blocking for game MVP Ezekiel Elliott to rush for 246 and 4 touchdowns. But I thought it was the efficiency of converting on 3rd and 4th downs for the Buckeyes. Ohio State was 8 for 15 on 3rd down and perfect (3 for 3) on 4th down that kept drives going and the Oregon defense on field, which became more and more demoralizing for the Ducks. While the Ducks defense couldn’t get off the field; the Ducks offense couldn’t get on or stay on the field as they were inefficient on 3rd and 4th downs; going 2 for 12 on 3rd down and 0-fer on (0 for 2) on 4th down.
Have to applaud Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer for getting his 3rd national championship behind the arm and legs of his 3rd string quarterback Cardale Jones, who made some key 3rd down runs and throws to keep the chains moving, and keep the Oregon offense on the sidelines.