The Ohio State Buckeyes capped an impressive run to a national championship Monday, blowing out the Oregon Ducks, 42-20, despite committing four turnovers.
“We had a great game plan,” Ohio State safety and defensive MVP Tyvis Powell said on Ferrall on the Bench. “We just came out there and everybody came together. This is the seniors’ last game as a Buckeye and we just wanted to go out there and play our hearts out for them. You see we got the job done. We executed well.”
The game had the makings of a shootout, as Oregon marched 75 yards in 11 plays on the opening drive. The Buckeyes looked confused and out of sorts – heck, they didn’t even force a single third down – but they stiffened thereafter, allowing just 13 points the rest of the way.
Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota didn’t have a bad game statistically – 24-of-37 for 333 yards, two touchdowns and an interception that came in garbage time – but he struggled in the red zone. He was also flattened by Ohio State All-American Joey Bosa in the fourth quarter and had to exit the game for a few plays.
“Bosa, yeah, he was definitely in Mariota’s head all night,” Powell said. “I think (Mariota) came out after that, too. A lineman got into it with (Bosa). There was a big scuffle going on after that.”
While the total yardage for each team was fairly even (Ohio State had a 538-465 edge), all yards are not created equally. Ohio State rushed 61 times for 296 yards – 4.9 yards per carry – and five touchdowns. Cardale Jones, meanwhile, was an efficient 16-of-23 for 242 yards, one touchdown and an interception that came after receiver Jalin Marshall bobbled what would have been an easy catch.
Still, the Buckeyes, who controlled the ball for nearly 38 minutes, dominated in the trenches and were easily the tougher, more physical team.
“That comes from the coaching staff,” Powell said. “That’s just the coaching. Everybody goes as hard as we can. We’re based off of toughness. That’s what we went out there and showed – being more physical and more tough.”
It was yet another coming-out party for the Buckeyes, who, despite beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, entered as underdogs yet again. Much of the chatter leading up to the national championship game centered on Oregon’s up-tempo offense, which was supposedly unstoppable.
Well, the Buckeyes stopped it.
They also went 4-0 as an underdog this year.
“We’ve been underdogs for so many weeks now,” Powell said. “We just take that and feed our hunger and use that as motivation. We just play with a chip on our shoulder. Every game we have something to prove and we go out there and prove it to the world.”
Ezekiel Elliott had a monster game for Ohio State, rushing 36 times for 246 yards and four touchdowns. In his last three games – in the Big Ten Championship against Wisconsin, in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama and in the national championship against Oregon – Elliott ran 76 times for 696 yards (9.2 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns.
“All I have to say about Zeke is I’m glad he’s on my team,” Powell said.
The win gave Ohio State its eighth national championship in school history and its first since 2002.
“We did it for (our fans), and we’re coming home,” Powell said. “We brought another national championship back to Columbus, Ohio. And this will not be the last one.”