The Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Oregon Ducks 42-20 in the first national championship of the college football playoffs. Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott dominated the show, rushing for 246 yards on thirty-six attempts with four touchdowns. The Ducks were initially able to limit Elliott, preventing him from creating big plays but he started to break loose in the second quarter. Elliott was able to gash Oregon’s defense and finished the night averaging seven yards per carry. Third string quarterback Cardale Jones was just as effective, plowing through defenders to gain yards after contact and using his impressive arm strength to create explosive plays. Jones completed sixteen of his twenty-three passes for 242 yards and a touchdown. Jones also added 38 yards through the ground and battered Duck defenders out of his path. The Buckeyes appeared invincible on offense, punting the ball only three times all game but were hampered by turnovers. Cardale Jones had two turnovers on the night and Ohio State had three lost fumbles. Oregon were unable to capitalize on the miscues however, scoring only one touchdown off of the giveaways.
Oregon’s Marcus Mariota had an impressive game as well, completing twenty-four of his thirty-seven passes for 333 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His lone interception came too late to make an impact. Oregon lacked the run game to complement Mariota and Ohio State was able to bury into third and long situations. The Ducks were able to muster a mere 132 yards on the ground and were burdened by penalties, being flagged 10 times for 76 yards. Their defense was unable to stop Ohio State all night, allowing 538 yards. The score masked the poor defensive performance with turnovers by Ohio State coming in important situations as Ohio State marched downfield.The victory is big for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes but leaves questions regarding the quarterback future for the team. Braxton Miller was a Heisman contender in his first two seasons but was sidelined with a shoulder injury for the year. Backup J.T. Barrett impressed as his replacement and had a great season before an ankle injury put him out of action for the Big Ten championship game. Third-string Cardale Jones picked up where Barrett left off and led the Buckeyes to a championship win. With all three quarterbacks undecided in their future, it will be interesting to see who stays and goes.