Five thoughts about Ohio State’s win over Alabama
NEW ORLEANS — Five thoughts in the aftermath of Ohio State’s 42-35 victory over Alabama, putting the Buckeyes in the Jan. 12 national championship game vs. Oregon…
1. This doesn’t mean it will happen again next time, or that the balance of power in college football has completely shifted. But Urban Meyer in three years has completely transformed the Ohio State program and roster into one that looks and runs like the best SEC programs, and the only way Meyer and his players were going to validate that and themselves was to win the kind of game they won Thursday night. It was a breakthrough win, big on many levels and one that’s many layers will be discussed for months and maybe years to come. Ohio State has really good players, now many more people know that and the Buckeyes are so young that they’re positioned for an extended run. The Sugar Bowl was a great game, and Ohio State’s previous 1-9 record vs. SEC teams is now 2-9, but most importantly it’s 1-0 with Meyer on Ohio State’s side.
2. Oh, yeah. Now the Buckeyes go play another game, bigger than the last. Sure looks like this playoff thing was a good idea.
3. Meyer said in the buildup to the game that there wouldn’t be one person involved with the program looking at or working on anything that didn’t involve Alabama; that if there would be another bridge to cross and game to play when the Buckeyes woke up on Jan. 2, that would be a good problem. It’s a good problem to have. Oregon is very good, too, and both teams play fast and score in bunches. Oregon is getting an average of 75 plays per game; the Ducks and Florida State combined for 93 in the first half of the Rose Bowl before a couple turnovers helped Oregon turn it into a rout. Ohio State is averaging 72.5 snaps per game, and we’re looking at the fastest national title game ever. When Auburn and Oregon played four years ago, both teams were coming off a six-week wait. This time, both will have their timing and their legs. Don’t blink. Folks in Las Vegas opened the line at Oregon -7 and a total of 70, which was immediately bet up to 73.
4. About that buildup and being caught in the moment, Meyer didn’t know know the final score (59-20) of the Rose Bowl. Told of it during his post-Sugar Bowl press conference he said "wow" and joked that he had to leave immediately to start preparing for Oregon. Alabama’s Nick Saban said he didn’t know the final score either, and it’s easy to believe both coaches were that wrapped up in their own preparation as the Rose Bowl ended while Ohio State and Alabama warmed up. Saban said he believed that Ohio State was "very underrated…by many people" and that he saw Cardale Jones and his ability to flick the deep ball with ease as a dangerous weapon. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 230 on a defense that hadn’t given up a 100-yard rusher in a game all year, and the Buckeyes won a track meet. Another one is coming.
5. It won’t be easy for Ohio State to keep up with all of Heisman Trophy winning Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and his different speedy targets.
It won’t be easy for Oregon to tackle Jones and Elliott.
In 10 days, we’ll find out.