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Buckeyes set sights on high-flying Oregon Ducks in College Football Playoff National Championship matchup

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 Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott (left) and coach Urban Meyer (right) lift the 2015 Allstate Sugar Bowl trophy into the air following OSU's 42-35 win over Alabama on Jan. 1 in New Orleans. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott (left) and coach Urban Meyer (right) lift the 2015 Allstate Sugar Bowl trophy into the air following OSU’s 42-35 win over Alabama on Jan. 1 in New Orleans. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

NEW ORLEANS — While he cracked a half smile as he said it, Urban Meyer’s words after finding out the score of Oregon’s semifinal matchup with Florida State held significant meaning.

“I gotta go,” the Ohio State coach said when told that the No. 2 Ducks shellacked the No. 3 Seminoles, 59-20. “We gotta go get ready for that one.”

Jokes aside, the No. 4 Buckeyes are set for just 11 days of preparation for a College Football Playoff National Championship clash with Oregon after beating No. 1 Alabama, 42-35, Thursday in the Sugar Bowl.

OSU finds itself with a shot at a national title to cap off a tumultuous season that saw Heisman candidate and senior quarterback Braxton Miller go down with a season-ending injury just 12 days before the first game. By week two, the Buckeyes had already suffered their first loss of the season, and by the end of the Michigan game had lost a second Heisman candidate in redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett, who broke his ankle in the win.

After the win over Alabama, senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett said the Buckeyes showed up in New Orleans with the title game already on their mind, and added he and his teammates won’t struggle to stay focused.

“We played this game to play the next game, so I think everybody’s minds are already on the next game,” Bennett said. “I don’t think it’s gonna be hard to refocus people. Guys didn’t see this game as the big time, we saw this game as the next step.”

For OSU to even have a shot at that next step, it had to overcome a series of adverse circumstances. Outside of the week two loss to Virginia Tech — and the injuries to Miller and Barrett — the Buckeyes played the Big Ten Championship Game less than a week after learning of the death of teammate Kosta Karageorge.

On the back of redshirt-sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones, OSU beat Wisconsin, 59-0, to pick up the conference title before toppling to top-ranked Crimson Tide at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“It is definitely unreal from the situation I was in to the situation my team was in,” Jones said after the Sugar Bowl victory. “I mean, beginning of the season into the middle of the season and then now.”

And with the win against Alabama, Jones said he and his teammates earned a moment for celebration, but the time to get back to work is just around the corner.

“Tonight I think I’m just gonna see my family a little bit and go to sleep,” Jones said. “And then when we get back to Columbus, do a little film work but not dive into it too hard, because we’ve got a nice layoff until we play them (Oregon). But this is how our preparation has been all year, so we’re not gonna change anything we do.”

Jones added that the Ducks’ convincing margin of victory against Florida State won’t change the Buckeyes’ game plan when it comes to preparing for the title bout, but he added the team will still take note.

“It’s just impressive,” Jones said. “A team to go out there and beat a great team like Florida State.”

With the result of the Rose Bowl in mind, Bennett was quick with responses like “speed” and “fast paced” when asked what stands out about the Ducks, but he added that the Buckeyes can match Oregon’s athleticism.

“I think we have the same speed as them, but their tempo is hard to prepare for, so that’s going to be the biggest thing,” Bennett said. “But once you prepare for it and you’re ready for it, I mean it’s just another team.”

But even if OSU can think of Oregon as “just another team,” the Buckeyes are set to be underdogs for the third consecutive game when the two teams match up for national bragging rights, and Bennett said his team is ready for that.

“I’m sure somehow we’re not gonna be good enough and we’re gonna be underdogs,” he said. “But that’s how it goes, so we’re just gonna go out there and play the game, and see what happens.”

The Buckeyes are set to take on the Ducks on Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

5 comments

  1. The “Bucks” vs. the “Ducks!”

    Quacks me up it does!

    I hope no one comments on my poetry.

    Okay, comment, please!

    Karl

  2. OMG I can’t wait to see the ESPN commercials leading up to the title game. My FAVE is buck nut and the mad Alabama girl in the car and Brutus and all the mascots sitting in the airport waiting to see who goes to Disneyland!!! hhahahahaha Wait the guy jumping out of the car when he learns the girl is a Michigan grad is funny as shigady as well. Jim Harbaugh glad you about to join the fun (I LOVE John here in MD hahaha)???

    Congrats buckeyes……d@@@@@@@@ did yall have to ROLL over the TIDE this bad (Stephen A Smith voice, ESPNs First Take)???? hahahahahahahah

  3. The SEC went down…Ducks and Bucks will be a ripper.

  4. OSU had an epic battle in its stunning win against Bama. But Buckeyes will face another epic challenge against the Ducks. No one beat let alone crush Florida State like Oregon crushed FSU. Ducks have high scoring potent running and passing attack.

    Ducks QB Mariota is much better than Bama QB Sims. Mariota literally does not throw interceptions and is also a running threat. Ducks run the fastest uptempo of any team. MSU got gassed in the 4th Qtr and FSU was out of position and both paid the price.

    OSU will need to achieve some ball control to limit the Ducks’ number of possessions. IMO

  5. Buckeyes’ Defense will face the following from Ducks’ Offense.
    1. Misdirection. Ducks and QB fake one way getting the defense to over commit and go elsewhere.
    2. QB Mariota is a dual threat QB that Buckeyes have not really faced. He also literally does not throw interceptions.
    3. Uptempo: Ducks run the fastest uptempo of any team. MSU got gassed in the 4th Qtr and FSU was out of position and both paid the price.

    In response Ohio State:
    A. Defense needs to play sold gap and position defense.
    B. Offense will need to achieve some ball control to limit the Ducks’ number of possessions. (Still need to score a lot).

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