Buckeyes RB Ezekiel Elliott bruises Oregon, pushes OSU to title
ARLINGTON, Texas — Ohio State Bullies.
And national champions, too.
It got a little too close for comfort in the third quarter after Ohio State’s fourth turnover, but Monday night’s national championship game was decided in the trenches and dictated by Ohio State’s power approach. And it wasn’t really much of a contest.
Ezekiel Elliott ran for 246 yards and four touchdowns, three in the final 15 minutes, as Ohio State ran away from Oregon and won, 42-20. Elliott was the easy choice as the game’s MVP as he scored his team’s first touchdown, accounted for 14 first downs and ran 25 times for 148 yards in the second half.
"I knew going in we wanted to run the ball," Elliott said. "I knew our offensive line was bigger than their defensive line and we could punch them in the mouth."
It was more than one punch, and Oregon had no counter. Ohio State ran up 538 yards, 296 on the ground, as Elliott found room inside and out and battering ram quarterback Cardale Jones picked up tough yards, too.
When it was over, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer grabbed the national championship trophy, displayed it for the Ohio State fans and then handed it to Elliott first.
Elliott kissed it.
"Me being MVP tonight, credit that to my big boys up front," Elliott said. "Actually, credit everyone on offense. Everybody did their jobs.
"The way the offensive line showed up towards the end of the season was just incredible. They were the heartbeat of the team."
A 225-pound sophomore, Elliott ran for 696 yards and eight touchdowns over Ohio State’s last three games. He ran for 230 yards in the Sugar Bowl national semifinal against an Alabama team that hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher all season.
So, Oregon knew it was coming. And couldn’t stop it.
"Elliott is a tremendous player," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "When you have him being as fast and physical as he is and then you trump that with a 255 or 260-pound quarterback, those are pretty good hammers.
"(Elliott) is an exceptional player (running behind) an exceptional offensive line. Our defense needed to create some turnovers and we did, but credit those guys."
Ohio State’s offensive line returned only Taylor Decker from last year’s group and struggled early with four new starters. Elliott was a new starter, too, and Monday night he completed an 1,878-yard season, second only in Ohio State history to Eddie George’s Heisman Trophy-winning 1,927-yard season in 1995.
Elliott was averaging over eight yards per carry Monday night until well into the fourth quarter. He finishes the season with an average of 6.9 per carry and 18 touchdowns for an Ohio State offense that broke the school scoring record and averaged 45 points per game. Ohio State went over 500 yards of offense in 10 games.
"We won this game tonight because of Zeke and because of our offensive line," Meyer said.
Elliott scored a 33-yard touchdown to tie Monday night’s game in the first quarter. He scored from nine yards out on the final play of the third quarter, from two yards out with 9:44 to go and from one yard with 28 seconds left.
His 36 carries were a career high and easily the most he’s had since late September, when he carried 28 times for 182 yards against Cincinnati. He had 220 on Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game and 230 on Alabama with 20 carries in each of those.
Now, he gets a little time for his body to heal.
"I definitely feel it now," Elliott said of his 36 carries. "But I’m good with it. It’s crazy. We finished the job. It’s a surreal feeling."
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