Read Everything That Dunks Must Converge

Read Everything That Dunks Must Converge
by Bryan Harvey

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2014 College Football Playoff: National Championship Game

January 12, 2015

Ohio State v Oregon @ 8:30 on ESPN

Mike Langston: The first national championship game brings something new.

Bryan Harvey: You sound like Abe Lincoln at Gettysburg.

ML: Whatever team wins, a new conference will be represented by the #1 in the land. The last time a PAC team won it all was 2004* **, Reggie Bush was the new prototype for running backs and Matt Leinart was a future pro bowler. The last time a B1G team won, Maurice Clarett was an enigma, stiff-arming his way through the Hurricanes, and no one cared about free tattoos.

BH: So does the winner of this game play in the SEC next season?

ML: This national championship is a game I think we all are a bit surprised to see.

BH: That was a serious question.

ML: Alabama seemed to be a lock to beat the Buckeyes, while Florida State hadn't lost since Jameis took over the starting duties. But we shouldn't be surprised.

BH: But the SEC West invented football?

ML: This is the best Oregon team they've maybe ever had. 49% of their roster is comprised of blue chip recruits. During the BCS era, the average for the winning team is 50%.

BH: If I were the Ducks coach, I'd recruit the equivalent of ugly ducklings, that way the prophecy could be foretold and a team of swans could be born.

ML: Good luck with that.

BH: No luck needed. It's called destiny.

ML: Meanwhile, Ohio State surprised folks because of their head-scratching loss to Virginia Tech, a mediocre team in a mediocre league. However, Ohio State had 4 or their 5 offensive lineman starting in their first game. On top of that, they were a few weeks removed from losing their preseason Heisman candidate for the year. It shouldn't be a surprise they lost or that they continued to improve.

BH: But Virginia Tech's not good.

ML: Anyways, what should be a surprise is how Nick Saban and Kirby Smart failed to stop Cardale Jones on third and long, when it was clear he could do only one thing versus them (deep ball on a go route, again and again). Where was the deep help by the safeties, Nick?

BH: Maybe Nick thought the Playoffs was double elimination or something.

ML: If it wasn't for Urban Meyer, I would have no hesitation in saying Oregon would destroy Ohio State.

BH: Do you know how ridiculous you sound?

ML: They have a QB who can outrun practically everyone on the field, leading an offense that is designed to tear you down, inch by inch. Whatever you do to adapt, the Duck offense has an answer.

BH: It's called swan-mode.

ML: And it's designed to make you feel like you have a chance to stop it. And once you begin thinking that is when the big play comes. And they do it all on a breakneck pace, exhausting the defenders and stopping the coordinator from making any real changes to stop what's happening.

BH: Sounds inevitable.

ML: I'd say the defense is a weakness, but the Ducks lead the country in points off turnovers, which we all know is what they did to tear apart the Noles.

BH: I really wanted to make a Jameis Winston joke here, but what's the point?

ML: We're probably all better off. Oregon will be missing its second leading wide receiver in Darren Carrington. While this might not seem like that big of a deal for an offense as explosive as Oregon's, it could be huge. Carrington may not be as involved as Byron Marshall, but he had become the top threat in the last two games. He led the team in yards in the PAC Championship and the Rose Bowl with a combined 291 yards after amassing just 413 yards in the first 12 games of the season. Add to that the loss of Devon Allen (injured versus Florida State) and Oregon is without its' top two receivers.

BH: That sounds important, but something, perhaps a stat, tells me Mariota distributes the ball better than that.

ML: Ohio State comes in as the definitive underdog. And deservedly so.

BH: They did lost to Virginia Tech.

ML: They're also relegated to starting a third string QB (bringing back memories of Marcus Outzen), though his arm is huge (in Uncle Rico fashion, he has said he can throw it 80-85 yards or right over the mountain). However, Urban Meyer has proven he is one of the best coaches when it comes to preparation. He finds weaknesses and he exploits them. I'm not sure it'll be enough, but it's worth noting.

BH: At what point will it not be worth noting? When Cardale Jones is starting in an NFL Playoff game five years from now, will he be introduced as Ohio State's third string quarterback?

ML: He just might. There is one stat that won me over and it may seem meaningless, but I'm already leaning this way anyhow. Since the BCS was implemented, this will be the fourth time where a coach with a national championship matches up with a coach who has zero. The winner in each of the previous three games, the coach with zero.

BH: That's a good stat.

ML: So, to summarize, Oregon has the necessary amount of blue chippers, has a coach with zero national championships and a team meant to exploit your mistakes on defense and an offense that will wear you down led by an incredible athlete at QB who has mastered the system. Oregon wins 38, Ohio State 24.

*Well, I guess not technically, that title has since been vacated. The last team in the PAC to win a title and still has a claim to it is Washington, who won the Coaches Poll in 2003. USC won the AP #1 in 2003. But LSU was the BCS Champ, so I'm not sure I would count that.

**Also, just a reminder, Auburn got hosed in 2004.


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