This evening the Oregon Ducks take on the Ohio State Buckeyes to see who will become the College Football National Champion. While many here are disappointed that UCLA did not make the inaugural bowl, it is good that the Pac-12 is represented. Oddly enough, a certain "better" conference will not be represented in this game, obviously it must be an oversight on the committee's part! Oh wait, this time around, teams had to play their way in.
As we know, the #2 Ducks earned their trip by destroying #3 Florida State and their infamous leader Jameis Winston, 59-20. #4 Ohio State earned their way into the game by defeating ESPN's anointed champion, #1 Alabama, 42-35.
Besides the absence of the SEC, there are other interesting things to note about this game. Oregon will be led by their excellent quarterback and all around good guy, Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. They will however be missing wide receiver Darren Carrington and reserve running back Ayele Forde who were suspended for violating the NCAA's drug policy. Both failed a drug test for using something that will be legal in Oregon in July. It is really sad for the team that they couldn't wait until then. Forde will be missed on special teams, but even more of a concern for the Ducks will be Carrington's absence. Even though the offense is geared so that receivers are interchangeable, Carrington was very valuable in the semi-final game, with 7 catches for 165 yards, including two touchdown receptions. With Mariota running the offense, however, it might just not matter who is catching the ball.
On the other side of the ball, we know that Ohio State was able to win its way into this game on the shoulders of it's #3 quarterback. After losing two possible Heisman quarterbacks, Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett, their third quarterback Cardale Jones stepped up and was able to lead the Buckeyes to a Big 10 victory over Wisconsin as well as past the Seminoles in the semi-finals. All I can say is I would love to have their quarterback coach working with our talented qb core! So what would happen should Jones not be able to play? Redshirt freshman running back Jalin Marshall would step up and manage the game. Marshall is second on the team in receptions and 3rd in rushing yards. While the clutch play of Jones has people talking, look to the run game and their outstanding running back, Ezekiel Elliott to be key for OSU. Against Alabama, Elliott logged 230 yards and two touchdowns and Oregon has struggled at times against the run (see their only defeat to Arizona).
In other tangentially related, but interesting news, it is being reported that Jameis Winston's accuser filed a federal civil law suit Wednesday against the FSU trustees for "failing to properly investigate the incident". The complaint states:
Had FSU . . . instead complied with its own policies and federal law by promptly investigating plaintiff’s rape and sanctioning Winston while protecting plaintiff’s safety, Winston would have been removed as a threat to plaintiff long before ever suiting up to play football in a Seminoles jersey, and plaintiff would be on campus progressing toward an FSU degree. Instead, plaintiff was forced to leave campus while Winston remains, having suffered no consequences.
We don't know what happened, but I for one am glad to see Ohio State in this game instead of FSU (and I've never been an OSU fan), and Oregon instead of an SEC team!
Back to the game...
If you would like more information about the College Football Championship, check out their site. Kick-off is at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time and can be seen and heard on ESPN beginning at 5 pm. The pre-game festivities will feature Lady Antebellum and Aloe Blacc. The game will take place at AT&T stadium in Arlington, Texas. If you would like a nice breakdown of the game and each team's offense, defense, and special teams, the NFL's CFB 24/7 has one here.
Oh yes, I almost forgot. In case you were curious what the teams will be wearing tonight, it looks like this will be the first college football game played with real wings:
Maybe next year some of us will be at the game, wearing our Blue and Gold, and our uniforms will be equipped with real claws and sharp teeth (come on Adidas!). But for now, let's sit back and enjoy tonight's game.
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And as always...