This College Football handicapper answers this question: Does Ohio State have a realistic chance of pulling the outright upset of Oregon in the College Football National Championship Game?
|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)
Can the Buckeyes Upset the Ducks?
The Ohio State Buckeyes and Oregon Ducks will play for the College Football national championship on January 12th at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. At the time of this writing, college football betting odds show Oregon as a 7.0 point favorite, and the posted total at 75.0 (74.5 at the Greek). I’m going to assume the challenging task of exploring factors in which Ohio State can possibly pull off the upset, versus an opponent (Oregon) who’s gone 9-0 SU&ATS in their last 9-games, and won those contests by an average of 27.2 points per outing.
The Urban Meyer Factor
With all due respect to Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich, who’s done a phenomenal job since replacing Chip Kelly at the beginning of the 2013 season, the head coaching edge clearly goes to Urban Meyer in this matchup. Meyer has two national championships attached to his resume that he earned while being the head man at Florida. He’s done nothing to disappoint since taking over as the head coach at Ohio State. The Buckeyes have gone a superb 37-3 since 2012 under Meyer’s guidance. If you’re concerned about the possible hangover effect for the Buckeyes after upsetting Alabama in the national semifinal, then don’t be. Meyer has gone an outstanding 12-1 ATS in his head coaching career in games in which his teams are coming off an upset win, and they have a large +18.1 point per game differential in those contests. By the way, Meyer’s teams have gone an excellent 21-5 ATS as an underdog in College Football odds during his tenures at Bowling Green, Florida, and Ohio State.
It’s imperative that Ohio State wins the turnover battle if they’re to have a reasonable chance to upset Oregon. It certainly won’t be an easy task. Oregon has committed only 10-turnovers this season, and is at a massive +20 turnover differential margin in 2014. However, Ohio State has forced their opponents into 32-turnovers on the year, and was a +7 in that category during their previous 3-games.
The Running Game
Ohio State has rushed for 219-yards or more in each of their previous 11-games. If they’re going to have a realistic chance of winning, they must come near or surpass the 300-yard rushing mark in order to provide them with that opportunity. Time of possession may be the most deceiving statistic when facing Oregon. The Ducks average just 27:07 on the season, but average 47.2 points per game, and wear opponents down with their frantic offensive pace. Putting that into proper perspective, the Ducks run an average of 75 offensive plays per game, compared to just 62 by their opponents. Ohio State must not only dominate the time of possession, but they need to go on long sustained drives that result in scores, and limit the Ducks number of offensive plays by doing so in order to keep its defense fresh.
Contrarily, the Buckeyes will need to at least neutralize the Ducks vaunted rushing attack that averages 242-yards per game, and averages 5.5 yards per attempt. If they can limit Oregon to 200-yards or less in this game, they’ll increase their probability of attaining a victory. Ohio State is allowing 142-yards per game on the ground this season, and is surrendering just 3.9 yards per rushing attempt. The Buckeyes defensive line is their strongest unit on both sides of the ball, and they’ll need to be at their absolute best versus the Ducks, and if they are, then watch out!