Ohio State proved College Football handicappers and those making sports picks that they belong in the Final Four with their superior showing against Alabama. What will it take to beat Oregon?
|Oregon scores first -145 (best line bet365)
OhioSt scores first +145 (best line BOL)
|Team to score first wins game -180 (best line Bovada)
Team to score first loses game +160 (best line SIA)
|Longest TD scored o 62½ +105 (best line Heritage)
Longest TD scored u 62½ -115 (best line 5Dimes)
|Game total odd -125 (best line bet365)
Game total even +110 (best line 5Dimes)
Though everyone realized this was not the Crimson Tide’s best defense, few placing College Football picks would have forecasted the Buckeyes would have put up 537 yards on DC Kirby Smart’s defense.
Oregon’s defensive numbers might suggest this is a below average group, but how many defenses have you heard of forcing four turnovers in a quarter?
What kind of success can or will the Buckeyes offense have against the Oregon defense? Let’s do some probing to determine.
Ohio State’s Urban Meyer a Sales and Motivational Master
To borrow from the ‘Colbert Report’, have to give a –Tip of the Hat- to head coach Urban Meyer. He loses quarterback Braxton Miller before the season start and begins selling people on the fact J.T. Barrett will work out just fine as a replacement and all he does is place himself in the Heisman conversation until being hurt against Michigan.
With his top two signal callers on the shelf, the college football odds were stacked against Ohio State forced to use Cardale Jones and Meyer convinced his players and the media of this. “This isn’t about Cardale, it’s about his teammates doing their job and him (Jones) doing his.”
While that all sounds good, making it work is another matter.
One stream of consciousness which can go into the waste basket is Jones being a true third-string quarterback. Granted, he is surrounded by exceptional teammates, but Jones has made it obvious he could be the regular starter for many college football programs.
Since the loss to Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes offense line has played like a construction company, moving any foreign objects out of the way. Ohio State is averaging 280.7 yards per game on the ground and allowing Jones to play to his strengths as a passer, by giving him time to find receivers down the field. How this group handles Oregon’s blitzing will be important.
Like the Ducks, Ohio State also averages 7.0 yards per play and does so by feeding workhorse RB Ezekiel Elliott (1,32 yards, 6.9 YPC and 15 touchdowns) and pushing the pigskin down the field to dangerous WR Devein Smith (12 TD’s). When Ohio State needs to move the chains with the pass, Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall and Elliott are at the ready.
Oregon Ducks Defense Bends Then Charges Ahead
The first impression one would have of Oregon’s defense is – beatable. They ranked 77th in total defense this season but this does not explain their whole story.
The multi-colored Ducks defense has surrendered more than 20 points once in their last six games. They attack the line of scrimmage with abandon and like their offense, attempt to do almost anything to get teams out of their comfort zone.
If you’re looking for a true weakness, it would appear in the pass defense. Oregon is 111th in the nation in pass defense, giving up 265.9 yards per game through the air. No question this number is likely inflated when you consider their opponents have to throw the ball a lot when they are trailing, nevertheless, they still gave up the yardage and Jones is a skilled deep-thrower.
What Oregon has done to overcome this is exotic blitz packages that generate negative plays and turnovers. If the Ducks can rattle Jones or force the ball on the ground, as we saw in the Rose Bowl, the Ducks know how to flip turnovers into points.
Bottom Line on This Matchup
In two games nobody has made Jones look uncomfortable and this will be Oregon’s defensive mission. Maybe the third-stringer cannot be rattled but this is what the Ducks have to find out and give up field goals, not touchdowns.
For Ohio State, winning the line of scrimmage in convincing fashion and keeping the throttle down on offense is what is needed and if done so properly, they beat the sportsbooks and the seven-point spread.