Ducks and Buckeyes set to Faceoff in first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship

Written by Danny Morales

(Photo Credit: Darrell Wilkinson / The SkyBoat)

DALLAS, Texas — Heisman Trophy-winning Marcus Mariota is ready to lead the Oregon Ducks against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship game on Monday, Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium.

Mariota and the Ducks made it to Dallas after dominating the Florida State Seminoles 59-20 in the Rose Bowl, while the Buckeyes punched their ticket to the inaugural game by upsetting No. 1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

Ohio State features a dynamic wide receiving corp, as well as a gunslinger at quarterback in Cardale Jones. Oregon’s secondary can expect to have their hands full on Monday, as the Buckeyes have three pass catchers who have at least 400 yards and six touchdowns receiving.

Devin Smith leads Ohio State in receiving with 886 yards and 12 touchdowns catches, while Michael Thomas adds 746 yards and nine scoring catches for the season.

The Buckeyes are working with their third quarterback this year, as Jones didn’t get his first start until the Big Ten Championship game after J.T. Barrett was lost for the season in the final regular season game against Michigan.

“He’s got the keys to the car,” said Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer of his sophomore quarterback. “And the way he handles his business is just extraordinary.”

Mariota will give the Ohio State defense problems if he’s able to extend plays with his legs and starts running the up-tempo type of offense that Oregon is capable of going with. Third down will be critical, as the Buckeyes defense will be trying to get off the field and not allow the Ducks to move the chains as frequently as they’re used to.

Oregon converted on third down 52 percent of the time this season and most of those conversions were due to Mariota and his ability.

The Heisman Trophy winner will be one of the main focuses for the Ohio State defense as he’s thrown for 4,121 yards and 40 touchdowns this season, while adding 731 yards on the ground and another 15 touchdowns. Mariota has also done a good job of protecting the ball limiting his interceptions to three through 14 games.

“Our number one concern is their quarterback…” said Meyer on Sunday. “I think the wear and tear during the course of the game is unique because it’s a very high tempoed offense, but our biggest concern is the guy receiving the snap every play.

“I think he’s one of the finest that’s ever played the game, and that’s our biggest issue.”

If Oregon can pull out a win on Monday against Ohio State it will give the Ducks their first football National Championship in school history. While the Buckeyes already have seven national titles to their name.

Oregon and Ohio State will meet in the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship game on Monday, Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. EST, with the game airing on ESPN as well as the WatchESPN app.

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