No.2 Oregon is consistently one of the country’s top college football teams, averaging 12 wins over the last five seasons. The team has yet to win a national title, but they’re hoping to change that in Monday’s 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship Game against No.4 Ohio State.
The Buckeyes have had similar success in recent years without even making it to the national title game. This year marks their fourth season in the last five years with at least 12 victories. Ohio State last won the national title when they beat Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl to finish the season at 14-0.
The Ducks are favored to win by a somewhat comfortable margin. They’ve been dominant all season long, defeating five ranked teams, including a 59-20 win over the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles in the Rose Bowl. All but two of their victories have come by at least 18 points.
Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota leads the No.2 offense in the country, which has scored at least 42 points in all of their 13 wins. The quarterback has thrown for at least two touchdowns in every game, and he’s been intercepted just three times, though he was picked off in the team’s last contest.
Ohio State doesn’t have a Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback, and Cardale Jones is making just his third career start, but he’s looked like a championship-caliber signal caller in two games. He helped lead the Buckeyes to a 59-0 win in the Big Ten Championship Game, as well as a 42-35 victory over No.1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
The Buckeyes have the nation’s No.5 scoring offense, in large part because of their running game. Jones hasn’t been good on the ground, failing to pick up where quarterback J.T. Barrett left off, but Ezekiel Elliott has more than made up for the lost production. With Jones at the helm, the running back has rushed for 220 yards and 230 yards, respectively, getting just 20 carries in each game.
Considering both teams can put up points on almost anybody, the game might come down to each team’s defense. They are nearly identical in the rankings, with Ohio State coming in at No.26 and Oregon falling at No.27. However, the Ducks’ defense has been more dominant of late, allowing an average of 17.5 points and 27 points or fewer in the last six games. The Buckeyes have surrendered at least 27 points in four of their last six games.
8:30 p.m. ET
Anthony Riccobono, International Business Times: Oregon (40-30)
Greg Price, International Business Times: Ohio State (37-33)
Bobby Ilich, International Business Times: Oregon (41-31)
Pat Forde, Yahoo Sports: Oregon (41-31)
Graham Watson, Yahoo Sports: Oregon (45-31)
Sam Cooper, Yahoo Sports: Oregon (48-38)
Matt Hinton, Grantland: Oregon (45-34)
Holly Anderson, Grantland: Oregon (43-34)
Adam Rittenberg, ESPN: Ohio State (45-42)
Brian Bennett, ESPN: Oregon (42-38)
Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports: Oregon (39-32)
Jon Solomon, CBS Sports: Oregon (38-34)
Jerry Hinnen, CBS Sports: Ohio State (35-31)