Bucks and Ducks Battle Tonight for the NCAA Football Title

Mariota
Mariota
Marcus Mariota's legs may be more important than his arms tonight.

You’ve probably heard this little trivia tidbit by now but in case you haven’t here it is… Following the first-ever NCAA Basketball Tournament in 1939, the two teams that met for the title were Oregon and Ohio State. The Ducks would claim their one and only national championship in men’s basketball.

Now, these same two universities meet in the first-ever college football playoff title game and again, the Ducks enter having won zero national championships in football. Both teams enter at 13-1 and both won their respective conference titles.

Each school offers intriguing storylines as the game kicks off tonight. Who do I like and why? Read on.

College Football National Championship

Ohio State (+7) vs Oregon (O/U 75)

By the Numbers: Points per game Ohio State 45.2, Oregon 46.3… Points allowed per game Ohio State 21.2, Oregon 22.5

Jones
The Ducks will look to frustrate Cardale Jones early tonight in Dallas.

Why Ohio State Wins: As good as Oregon Head Coach Mark Helfrich has been, Urban Meyer is a master game-planner who rarely is out-prepared by his opponent. Meyer’s experience heading into this game is significant as well and should be an advantage to the Buckeyes.

The defensive line for OSU has been dominant all season and eventually overwhelmed the Alabama offensive line. The Oregon offensive line is very good and is more aggressive than they are given credit for so this should be an excellent match-up.

I think the Buckeyes defensively have recognized the fact they will give up yards to Oregon but can they limit the Ducks in the red zone where Oregon has had some struggles? I think the Buckeyes can also bank on the fact that they aren’t going to turn the ball over as many times as Florida State did and that’s important for their confidence.

Why Oregon Wins: There is going to be no secret as to what the Ducks are going to do. They will go at a high rate of speed and they will not relent. If they can find some success early running the football against a good OSU defense then that will make Marcus Mariota all the more dangerous.

The loss of wide receiver Darren Carrington due to suspension is going to hurt a lot but if the Ducks can find someone to step up that isn’t necessarily expected to then the Ducks will be fine. That’s a tall order however and I’m worried about this situation which is why I think they look to the ground game even more often.

Defensively, the Ducks must stop the run and force the game into the hands of Cardale Jones. Alabama was unable to do that and what was even worse is that the Tide weren’t able to contain Jones when he ran either. If Oregon can force Jones into some early mistakes and force him to play from behind then things can swing in their favor dramatically.

Trends: Ohio State is 5-0 straight up in their last five games… Oregon is 5-0 SU in their last five games… The total has gone OVER in 12 of Ohio State’s last 13 games… The only common opponent for each team is Michigan State and both trailed by at least a touchdown before coming back to win by double digits.

Key Injuries: OSU QBs Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett/OUT, Oregon CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu/OUT

The Pick: I was liking the Buckeyes all week but now I like them even more with Carrington out for Oregon. Don’t be surprised to see a defensive game for most of the first half before the offenses settle in but either way I love Ohio State and the UNDER.

My Winners for Today’s Semifinal Games and More.

Winston
Winston
A win in the Rose Bowl would make Jameis Winston's career record at Florida State 28-0.

Normally a piece like this would be featured in the research area of the website but I’m “blogging” it today because I just have to break down these New Year’s Day games.

Florida State (+8) vs Oregon (O/U 71) – Despite being the only unbeaten team left in college football, the Seminoles are the three-seed in the first-ever college football playoff. Frankly, there’s a couple of reasons for that and those are the relatively weak schedule and the constant need to come from behind against much of that competition.

The Ducks are out to prove a couple of things; first, that they aren’t a finesse team and second, that their Heisman winning QB is better than Florida State’s. While may will make this a game between Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, I believe the defenses will play a significant role in who advances to the title game.

FSU has struggled defensively compared to last year and that’s giving lots of people reason to lay their money on the Ducks but there is one major concern I have here. Oregon struggles to score touchdowns in the red zone because they tend to go east and west more than north and south and they run out of room near the end zone. Offensive coordinator Scott Frost will need to make proper adjustments there.

Trends:┬áThe Ducks are 5-0 straight up in their last five games… Florida State is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games…The total has gone UNDER in four of FSU’s last five games.

The Pick: As badly as I want to take FSU here because of their penchant for comebacks this season, I have a feeling the Ducks are going to run them out of the building with an offensive pace they haven’t seen all year. Take the Ducks to cover and take the OVER.

Jones
The Buckeyes' fortunes will rise or fall behind QB Cardale Jones tonight.

Ohio State (+9) vs Alabama (O/U 58) – Ohio State comes to New Orleans with a team led by a quarterback who has started just one game in his career. Granted, Cardale Jones tore up Wisconsin in the Big Ten Title game 59-0, but he’ll face a much greater challenge in terms of both defensive talent and defensive coaching from Alabama.

The Tide under Nick Saban have always been a run-first team but behind new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, the offense has exploded. The key will be whether the Alabama offensive line can handle a very good defensive line from Ohio State. If the Crimson Tide control the line of scrimmage then it could be a long day for the OSU defense.

Trends: Alabama is 4-10-1 against the spread in their last 15 games… Ohio State is 5-0 straight up in their last five games… The total has gone OVER in 11 of OSU’s last 12 games… The Crimson Tide is 5-0 in its’ last five contests.

The Pick: With six national titles between the two of the them, Saban and Urban Meyer will have their teams ready to play. I think Bama wins but I like the Buckeyes getting the points and I like the OVER as well.

Other Bowls

Wisconsin (+7) vs Auburn – Take the Tigers to cover as the Badgers are in a bit of disarray right now.

Michigan State (+3) vs Baylor – I can’t get Sparty’s second half collapse against Oregon’s high-octane offense out of my head. Take the Bears to cover.

Minnesota (+5) vs Missouri – Are you sensing a trend? Every Big Ten team playing today is an underdog. With good reason too, take the Tigers to cover.