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Monday, 12 January 2015

College Football National Championship Game 2015 (January 12)

The Semi Final of the inaugural College Football Play Offs were played on New Year's Day and that means the Oregon Ducks and the Ohio State Buckeyes will be heading to Dallas and Jerry's World for the National Championship Game.

I actually think this is going to be a really good game and I think both teams deserve their opportunity to compete for the biggest prize in College Football and a chance to give themselves a place in history.

Oregon Ducks v Ohio State Buckeyes: If the old BCS system was still in place from last season, it is arguable that the two losing teams in the first ever College Football Play Off Semi Finals would have been the ones invited to compete for the National Championship. An unbeaten Florida State Seminoles, who were also defending Champions, and the Alabama Crimson Tide, the overwhelming choice for Number 1 team in the nation, were both beaten in the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl Semi Final games although one was far more unexpected than the other.

While the Florida State Seminoles were a big underdog, the Crimson Tide were very much expected to deal with the Ohio State Buckeyes (13-1) who were still playing third string Quarter Back Cardale Jones. However, for the second game in a row, Jones failed to feel the pressure he should do in that position and helped the Buckeyes win two games as an underdog in his first two starts.

It will be another big challenge for Jones and the Buckeyes as they take on the Oregon Ducks (13-1) who crushed Florida State in a quite unbelievable third quarter when everything went wrong for the Seminoles. Marcus Mariota won the duel against Jameis Winston and may already have confirmed his place as the Number 1 Draft pick in the NFL later in the year.

Scoring points hasn't been a problem for the Ducks since their sole defeat to the Arizona Wildcats and they have won 9 straight games since then with at least 42 points per game. Mariota is one of the major weapons for the team, but he will be facing a challenge against this Ohio State Defense, especially after two of his top Receiving weapons were ruled out of the game.

Devon Allen was injured in the Rose Bowl win over Florida State and that means his almost 700 yards and 7 Touchdowns are out of the game. Matters have become a little worse after Darren Corrington was ruled ineligible by Oregon and that rules out his 700 yards and 4 Touchdowns from the game too.

The speed of the Oregon Offense will still create issues for the Buckeyes Defense, but the Secondary has played well this season by holding teams to fewer than 200 passing yards per game. Without Allen and Corrington, Ohio State have to feel better about their chances and the Oregon Offensive Line, which has played better towards the end of the season thanks to improved health on that unit, will be tested by a very strong pass rush led by Joey Bosa and Michael Bennett.

The pressure and penetration that Bosa and Bennett have helped Ohio State create has seen the Secondary also excel at creating turnovers as Vonn Bell has picked up 6 Interceptions from Safety and Doran Grant has 5 Interceptions from Corner Back. The Buckeyes have 32 turnovers this season and 43 Sacks and will try and take Mariota out of his comfort zone has he looks at a different Receiving unit than he has been used to.

Mariota can lean on a strong running game to try and make life a little easier as his has a decent set of wheels himself, but can also hand off to Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner. These three players have all contributed to Oregon averaged 5.5 yards per carry and producing 241 yards per game on the ground, but will be tested by the Ohio State Buckeyes who have only allowed 3.9 yards per carry.

Cardale Jones may have received some rave reviews in the way he has played for Ohio State at Quarter Back in relief of JT Barrett who was relieving the injured Braxton Miller. It is almost certain Miller transfers to another school before next season, but Jones can really press to keep his starting berth ahead of Barrett with another strong performance in this game despite the strong season Barrett had.

Jones, like Mariota, will lean on the Ohio State rushing Offense to make life easier for himself and that means seeing a lot of Ezekiel Elliot as long as this game remains competitive. Elliot had a mammoth 230 rushing yards against Alabama's vaunted run Defense and set a new Sugar Bowl record in that Play Off Semi Final and won't be intimidated by the Oregon Defensive Line which allows 156 yards per game at 4.2 yards per clip.

Elliot has helped Ohio State produce 262 rushing yards per game at 5.8 yards per carry and he will be leaned on to keep the Buckeyes in third and manageable spots in this game. The Running Back will be buoyed by seeing Florida State run successfully against the Ducks Defensive Line, but Elliot also has to be aware of the fumbles they forced from Dalvin Cook in that game.

If the Running Back is moving the ball effectively on the ground, Cardale Jones will get the chance to attack a Secondary that will still be missing Imo Ekpre-Olomu at Corner Back who is considered their best player in that unit. The Ducks have given up 265 passing yards per game through the air, albeit that number is contributed to by the fact they have big leads and teams need to throw against them.

That should be an area that Jones can exploit having thrown for at least 243 yards in both starts this season against Defenses of the capability of Wisconsin and Alabama, while the Quarter Back also has 4 Touchdown passes and 1 Interception in those two wins. Like Mariota and the Oregon Offense, Jones does need to be aware that he is facing a Defense that had forced 30 turnovers this season as well as picking up 36 Sacks.

This is the ninth time the Oregon Ducks and Ohio State Buckeyes will meet on a football field and it is currently 8-0 to the Buckeyes including a 9 point win in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day 2010.

National Championship Pick: The National Championship Game in College Football looks to be a very competitive one and you can make a real case for either team to actually win the game which is why I have to like the amount of points being given to the Ohio State Buckeyes. Cardale Jones has helped the team not miss a beat since JT Barrett went down with his season ending injury and Jones has already upset the odds twice in games against the Wisconsin Badgers and Alabama Crimson Tide.

The Buckeyes were underdogs in both of those games and Urban Meyer is a Head Coach that continues to thrive in that spot as he has led the Buckeyes to a 5-0 record against the spread when given points. Meyer has all the experience of a two time National Championship winning Head Coach and he should have the Buckeyes ready to go in this one.

Of course you have to have a lot of respect for what Marcus Mariota brings to the table as the Heisman Trophy winner and almost certainly the Number 1 Pick in the NFL Draft coming up in April. The fast paced Offense also wears down Defenses who don't have time to catch their breath and it also causes confusion with Defenders trying to make sure they have the right coverage set.

However, Ohio State's Defense has played well all season and the likes of Michael Bennett and Joey Bosa have created penetration into the backfield that can certainly slow down Offenses. With Devon Allen and Darren Carrington both absent at Receiver, Mariota has to make sure the Receivers stepping up are on the same page as him or turnovers can be a factor against this Ohio State Secondary.

That could be a real key in this game- both teams have created turnovers and have gotten plenty of Sacks, but the Ohio State Defense hasn't been as easy to move the ball against as the Oregon Ducks Defense. The Ducks have allowed over 420 yards per game this season in total Offense and Cardale Jones has shown he has the composure to make big plays along with Ezekiel Elliot at Running Back.

Oregon have been a strong favourite all season, going 10-4 against the spread in that spot, but the Buckeyes do thrive as the underdog and have the Coaching edge. There are also a couple of other trends that will be going against Oregon since 1998 when the BCS National Championship Game was created.

The favourite in the National Championship Game is had won and covered in 6 straight seasons before last season and they have won 7 straight games. However the first trend against Oregon is that teams favoured by 6 or more points in this game are only 2-6 against the spread and they are 3-5 straight up.

The second one is that the Heisman Trophy winner is just 3-5 outright and also just 2-6 against the spread in the National Championship Game since 1998.

Add those two strong trends with the fact that Urban Meyer should have the Coaching edge over Mark Helfrich and Ohio State's strong record against the spread as the underdog and I like taking the points in a game the Buckeyes can certainly win outright.

MY PICK: Ohio State Buckeyes + 6.5 Points @ 1.92 Stan James (1 Unit)

Bowl Update10-11, - 1.65 Units (21 Units Staked, - 7.86% Yield)

Week 156-2, + 3.69 Units (8 Units Staked, + 46.13% Yield)
Week 148-7, + 0.47 Units (15 Units Staked, + 3.13% Yield)
Week 137-6, + 0.37 Units (13 Units Staked, + 2.85% Yield)
Week 127-5, + 1.40 Units (12 Units Staked, + 11.67% Yield)
Week 119-4, + 4.34 Units (13 Units Staked, + 33.38% Yield)
Week 106-7, - 1.51 Units (13 Units Staked, - 11.62% Yield)
Week 94-9-1, - 5.31 Units (14 Units Staked, - 37.93% Yield)
Week 85-7, - 2.26 Units (12 Units Staked, - 18.83% Yield)
Week 73-8, - 5.31 Units (11 Units Staked, - 48.27% Yield)
Week 62-7, - 5.13 Units (9 Units Staked, - 57% Yield)
Week 54-5, - 1.13 Units (9 Units Staked, - 12.56% Yield)
Week 46-5, + 0.58 Units (11 Units Staked, + 5.27% Yield)
Week 33-7-1, - 4.18 Units (11 Units Staked, - 38% Yield)
Week 25-6, - 1.18 Units (11 Units Staked, - 10.72% Yield)
Week 16-4, + 1.77 Units (10 Units Staked, + 11.7% Yield)

Season 201475-82-2, - 13.39 Units (172 Units Staked, - 7.78% Yield)
Season 201365-49-2, + 8.49 Units (124 Units Staked, + 6.85% Yield)
Season 201254-59-1 - 7.11 Units (114 Units Staked, - 6.24% Yield)
Season 201163-36, + 23.25 Units (99 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)

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