Ohio State 42, Oregon 20
It wasn’t pretty, by any means. It was sloppy — and brutal. Brutus brutalized the hapless Ducks to the tune of 42-20 even while turning the ball over four times. Thus, it could have been a lot more brutal. Nevertheless, it was a satisfying display of power football, even for a turkey who thought Oregon would win in a shootout.
Third-string quarterback Cardale Jones and the underrated (no longer) running back Zeke Elliott had the benefit of a great offensive line that protected Jones while enabling Elliott to gobble up 246 rushing yards and blast through for four touchdowns. Although the Duck defense did a pretty good job of spying on Jones, limiting him to 38 yards on the ground, he was able to complete 16 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown with one interception.
Duckwise, the vaunted Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota was thwarted by a swarming, cranked-up defense led by sophomore Joey Bosa, who could probably start in the NFL tomorrow. Although hampered by the loss of a couple of decent receivers, Mariota’s inability to work his magic, particularly in the red zone, was the story of the game. Oregon had been used to rolling over opponents, putting 50 points on the board at will. That they could do so at will against the Buckeyes proved to be a canard. This turkey is now a believer.
We Didn’t See This Team in 2014
The Buckeyes’ effectiveness in the three games beginning with the blowout win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game, continuing in the Sugar Bowl win over highly regarded Alabama, and culminating in a flawed, but dominating National Championship game performance could not have been extrapolated from our earlier season experience with Ohio State, in which the Lions hung in to tie the game at 17 in regulation. After the loss to Vagina Tech the second week of the season, many had pronounced Ohio State dead. I know one guy who thought they had little talent; he thought they were about the third best team in the conference. So what happened?
Hell, I don’t know. I would have never predicted the blowout against the Badgers. I would have laughed (and did) if anyone suggested that these guys could beat ‘Bama. And no way would they ever be able to go all the way — no way! But they did.
I have to believe Urban Meyer is a big reason. Sure, they have superior talent at a lot of positions. But all this success with second- or third-string quarterbacks tells us more than the mere fact that they have depth at that position. Meyer gets his guys up for big games. That’s something history can show. I’m too lazy to go back and dig up all the games the Gators were supposed to lose, but through the fog of an aging memory, I vaguely remember them. It all sort of comes back.
Offensive genius and Broyles Award winner Tom Herman, who is now Houston’s head coach, deserves a lot of the credit. However, Meyer has to be recognized as a superior judge of talent, having hired Herman away from Iowa State while assembling his coaching staff in advance of the 2012 season. Paternoists everywhere recognize this because he hired Larry Johnson, Sr. away from Penn State, and give him sole credit for the run to the championship, but I digress.
So, what we saw on the evening of October 25 was a team that came out with “that dullard look” and underachieved. Same thing with Vagina Tech. I’ll blame Meyer as much as anything else for not getting his guys up for the “little games” as he does for the big games. Clearly, he and the troops didn’t think much of Penn State or Virginia Tech, so they weren’t playing particularly well. Perhaps they were looking down the road two weeks to the Moo U. game. Maybe not. But whatever it was, we didn’t see this team in Beaver Stadium.
This was power football and it left no questions among the doubters who discounted Ohio State and the grousers who thought someone else should have been #4 seed. Could Baylor or TCU have won like this? I think Ohio State vindicated itself and the College Football Playoff selection system. They also did the Big Ten proud for a change and made believers out of Reno — they have been installed as an early 9-2 favorite to repeat next year.
Hats off to the Buckeyes!*
*For today, they deserve to be the Buckeyes. They’ll be back to being the Schmuckeyes by the start of the 2015 season.