Matchup: Fourth-seeded Ohio State (13-1) vs. second-seeded Oregon (13-1)
Where: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
When: 5:30 p.m.
TV: ESPN, plus alternative coverage on other ESPN networks
Line: Oregon by 6.
Series record: Ohio State 8-0.
What’s at stake
The first College Football Playoff national championship. The Buckeyes come into the game with the nation’s longest winning streak at 12 games. The Ducks have won nine straight.
Oregon defensive front seven against Ohio State’s running game. Much has been made of the Buckeyes’ ability to win while working their way down the quarterback depth chart, but TB Ezekiel Elliott and the running game have taken a lot of pressure off QB Cardale Jones in victories against Wisconsin and Alabama. Elliott ran for 450 yards, surpassing 200 in each game, against the Badgers and Crimson Tide. The Ducks’ run defense has been so-so. Oregon ranks 52nd in the nation in yards per carry (4.15), and Florida State was running it well on the Ducks in the Rose Bowl until the fumbles started. The Ducks play a 3-4 defense and will need DEs DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead to hold firm against the Buckeyes’ huge line. If the Ducks can keep Ohio State under its average of 262 yards rushing per game, it’ll be a win.
Players to watch
Ohio State: LB Darron Lee was the Sugar Bowl defensive MVP and finished third on the team with 73 tackles. He had 16.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions. At 6-foot-2, 228 pounds, Lee’s speed and range could be key in how the Buckeyes defend Oregon’s quick perimeter passes and Heisman winner Marcus Mariota’s running.
Oregon: TB Royce Freeman. The 229-pound freshman leads the Ducks in rushing with 1,343 yards and 18 TDs. He is a pile-mover who brings some muscle in the middle to complement Oregon’s outside speed.
Facts and figures
Jones is 30 for 52 for 500 yards with four touchdowns and one interception in two starts. All of his touchdown passes have been to WR Devin Smith, and they all have covered at least 39 yards. … Oregon WR Darren Carrington is ineligible for the title game after he tested positive for marijuana in an NCAA-administered drug test. … Mariota has thrown at least one touchdown pass in all 40 games he has started in his career. Mariota is also one of four quarterbacks in FBS history to pass for more than 10,000 yards and run for more than 2,000 in his career.
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