New Year’s Day kicked off the first ever college football playoff, featuring Alabama (1) vs Ohio State (4), and Oregon (2) vs Florida State (3). Despite these being considered the top four teams in the nation, these two games couldn’t have ended any more differently.
The first game of the day between Oregon (2) and Florida State (3) was expected to be a high scoring contest of explosive offensive players, including Heisman winner Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. The first half of the game highlighted a close game with both teams able to drive the ball down the field and put up points. Then halftime happened. With the exception of a touchdown pass midway through the 3rd quarter, the Oregon Ducks dominated the second half, with the Ducks putting up 41 points in two quarters to the tune of a 59-20 beatdown.
The Ducks put up 639 yards of total offense to the Seminoles 528, but the key was turnovers. Oregon had two, a Mariota pick that resulted in no points after a missed field goal, and a fumble at the end of the game when it was all but over. Florida State had five turnovers, four fumbles and one interception, which stalled drives and crushed any hope the Seminoles had as the game went on. The other major difference was the ground game, where Oregon was able to pound the rock and keep control of the ball and the clock. Thomas Tyner ran for 124 of Oregon’s 301 yards, where Dalvin Cook ran for 104 of Florida State’s 180 yards.
Rarely do you see a game where the undefeated defending National Champion lay an egg and give up on the game quite like the Seminoles did. At the end of the game, more than half of the Florida State players refused to meet Oregon at midfield, and instead went straight to the locker room. Does this say something about the team? Or is it fair for a team who hasn’t lost in two year to be bitter? Regardless, this game was a disappointment to those who wanted to see a competitive effort from both teams.
On the other hand, in a game where the Alabama Crimson Tide was expected to lay waste to the 3rd string quarterback touting Ohio State Buckeyes, we got a game that came down to a last ditch effort Hail Mary pass, and an epic upset. Midway through the 2nd quarter, it had appeared to be going to how everyone had thought the game would go: Alabama had a convincing lead and appeared to be controlling the game with the lead at 18 points.
Then things started to go Ohio State’s way. Tallying four straight, unanswered touchdowns to take the lead at 34-21, the momentum made a complete shift. Blake Sims had the worst game I’ve seen him have all season, struggling on third down, throwing into coverage, and not standing tall in the pocket. That lead to three interceptions and a mere 237 yards passing. Those three interceptions were all crucial as well: one was returned for a touchdown, another was on a first down going into Ohio State territory, and the last was on the Hail Mary to end the game. For the Buckeyes, Ezekiel Elliott averaged 11.5 yards per rush for a total of 230 yards and two touchdowns, which helped keep the defense focused on him and not QB Cardale Jones.
These games set up the championship game between Oregon (2) and Ohio State (4) on January 12th, featuring, for the first time in nine years, no teams from the SEC. The early favorite is Oregon with a seven point spread, but that’s why they play the game.
By: Adam Bogdan – @PatriotsInform