Ezekiel Elliott ran for 246 yards and four touchdowns as the Ohio
State Buckeyes overcame four turnovers to defeat the favored Oregon
Ducks 42-20 in the inaugural college football playoff Monday at AT&T
Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The Buckeyes (14-1) won their eighth national championship while
denying Oregon (13-2) their first title and ended Ducks quarterback
Marcus Mariota's Heisman Trophy-winning season on a losing note.
Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer won his third national championship after
winning BCS titles at Florida in 2006 and 2008.
"The chase is complete," Meyer said during the trophy presentation.
"It's done. It's over. They accepted their final mission, their final
assignment and their final directive, and they did it. That was our
whole mantra this last couple of weeks. A job well done, and we're very
Ohio State began the first major college football playoff as the
fourth and final seed, and as a team that faced questions about whether
it belonged at all. It was a team that never would have had a chance to
win a title under the old postseason system, which only matched the top
two teams in rankings that leaned heavily on a computer-generated
Meyer's Buckeyes overcame two injured Heisman contenders and one
awful early season loss at home to Virginia Tech to win their first
national title since 2002. Back then the Bowl Championship Series
decided No. 1 at the end of the season -- usually.
Oregon took an early 7-0 after Mariota capped the game's opening
drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass but Ohio State, led by Elliott and
quarterback Cardale Jones, scored the next 21 points and never trailed
In second half, two Ohio State fumbles helped Oregon get within
21-20, but the Buckeyes drove 76 yards in nine plays before Elliott
rumbled in from two yards out to make the score 28-20 on the final play
of the third quarter. Two fourth quarter touchdowns sealed the victory,
and the championship.
Elliott's 246 rushing yards gave him a total of 696 over the final
three games of the season, which included the Big Ten championship game
against Wisconsin and the playoff semifinal, in the Sugar Bowl against
Alabama Jan. 1.
Mariota did not perform badly, completing 24 of 37 passes for 333
yards (in addition to 39 rushing yards) and two touchdowns, with his
lone interception coming on the game's final, meaningless Hail Mary
pass. but the Ducks' warp-speed spread offense missed too many red-zone
opportunities and couldn't unleash its running game against linebacker
Darron Lee and an Ohio State front seven stacked with future NFL draft
picks. The Ducks were held to their lowest point total of the season,
four touchdowns below their average coming in.