The NFL play-offs are in full swing but come Monday night all eyes will be on AT&T Stadium in Arlington to see whether Oregon or Ohio State will be the first ever winners of the College Football Play-off...
"The Buckeyes haven't seen this type of offence since their only defeat to Virginia Tech back in September."
Oregon Ducks (2) v Ohio State Buckeyes (4)
Tuesday 13 January 2015 - 01:00AM
In the pre-playoff era, the national championship game would've been between Alabama and Florida State, well thank heavens those days are in the rear-view mirror. Both Alabama and Florida State had their chance to stake their claim to being the best team in the country and they both failed.
Florida State stunk up the joint as I fully suspected after being blown out by Oregon at the Rose Bowl. Alabama lost a thriller in the Sugar Bowl to the surging Buckeyes of Ohio State.
So here we are, the best team in the country in my opinion taking on the best coach in the country, this is going to be good.
First let's look at the two quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota is surely going to be the first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has a career 8:1 ratio for touchdown to interceptions, that is extraordinarily good. This season he has thrown for 40 scores while only giving up three picks.
Winning the highest individual honour for college football players isn't a guarantee of NFL success for quarterbacks though, the last winner to also start and win a Super Bowl was Jim Plunkett, Heisman winner in 1970.
On the other side we have Cardale Jones. He has started just two games in his college career. He led his Buckeyes to a 59-0 beat-down of Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game before leading his team past #1 ranked Alabama 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl.
What impressed me about Jones in his decision making against such a vaunted SEC defence. He threw the ball deep when he needed to, but his ability to pull the ball down and scramble for the first down was exemplary. He just kept converting third and long and when you do that, you have got to sit up and take notice.
The Ducks run a similar offence to what former Head coach Chip Kelly installed, they run the spread and run the option but most importantly, they go quick. They simply wear out a defence and the Oregon O versus the Ohio State D is where this game will be won and lost.
The Buckeyes haven't seen this type of offence since their only defeat to Virginia Tech back in September. They have had all season to fix those issues and 11 days to prepare for Oregon, but 11 days is not a lot of time to plan for the option and to install the fitness levels needed to slow down, let alone stop Oregon.
This game will be marketed as the speed and athleticism of Oregon against the power and toughness of Ohio State, that will be unfair. Ohio State have speed and showed that against Alabama whilst Oregon also answered their toughness questions against Florida State.
Before the season I tipped Oregon to win it all at [7.8] and I see no reason to deviate from that at this point. I thought then they they were the best team and haven't seen anything that really makes me think any differently.
Ohio State are peaking at the right time and they might have caught lightning in a bottle with this quarterback but can he score enough to keep his side with Oregon? I suspect not.
I started the season backing Oregon and I'll continue to do so but I'll also give you extra bets on the side markets.
Back Oregon to win at [1.5]
Back Oregon -7 points at [2.16]
Back over 74.5 points at [1.82]