Armour: Ohio State, Oregon deliver, and so does Playoff – USA TODAY
NEW ORLEANS — Back in the good ol’ days, Alabama and Florida State would be getting ready for the BCS title game. Anyone want to see that matchup after the wildly entertaining shows Oregon and Ohio State put on?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
The College Football Playoff proved its worth on its very first try. Neither Oregon nor Ohio State would have had a prayer at the national title under the Bowl Championship Series, snubbed in favor of SEC champion Alabama and an undefeated Florida State.
Now the Ducks and Buckeyes will face each other Jan. 12 for the inaugural playoff championship, and all but the most disgruntled TCU fan has to admit after Thursday’s games that both Oregon and Ohio State are worthy of the opportunity.
“We wouldn’t even be talking about this if we were in the BCS system,” Buckeyes safety Tyvis Powell said after the Buckeyes rallied from 15 points down to stun top-seeded Alabama 42-35.
The playoff structure isn’t perfect. As good as four teams are, eight would be better. Or 16.
But it’s a huge improvement over the BCS nonsense, which gave us legitimate gripes almost every season.
USC, Auburn, Utah, Boise State — someone was always howling about being left out or overlooked, often with good reason. Now, how a team is playing at the end of the season matters more than where it started or its pedigree.
“I was head coach of a Utah team that, if there was a playoff, there was a chance we would be able to get in,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “So I think it’s good for college football.”
Even when the BCS wound up with the right result, the process was needlessly messy and irritating when it should have been quite simple: If you want to claim to be the best, prove it on the field.
That’s exactly what Oregon and Ohio State did Thursday.
“Ask us right now, and we’ll say it’s the greatest system ever because it gave us a chance,” Buckeyes linebacker Josh Perry said.
“We got the two best teams in there,” Perry added. “From what I heard about that (Oregon) game, they did the doggone thing. We fought really hard in a game where a lot of people didn’t give us a shot. We handled our business.
“The playoff is meant to give the two best teams. I think it did that.”
Anyone who says differently must have spent the day watching a Kardashians marathon.
The Seminoles were defending national champs, proud owners of a 29-game winning streak that dated back to Nov. 24, 2012. And Oregon eviscerated them like a non-conference patsy in a 59-20 drubbing at the Rose Bowl that wasn’t even as close as the score indicated.
The Ducks needed all of about seven minutes late in the third quarter to bury the Seminoles. Florida State couldn’t keep up with Marcus Mariota and Oregon’s lightning-fast offense, which marched 81 yards in five plays for one score and 43 yards in two plays for another.
The Ducks defense, meanwhile, managed the unthinkable, making Jameis Winston look almost sympathetic after Tony Washington returned his mindless fumble for a TD that sealed the game.
It seemed as if another rout was on at the Sugar Bowl when Alabama took a 21-6 lead midway through the second quarter. But the Buckeyes stunned Alabama with 28 unanswered points — behind its third-string quarterback, no less.
Alabama’s run defense had been one of the best in the country, allowing less than 89 yards per game, and Ohio State shredded it. Ezekiel Elliott had 230 yards by himself, more than any of Alabama’s opponents.
Cardale Jones, Ohio State’s backup backup quarterback, looked like a grizzled vet when he connected with Devin Smith on a 47-yard score that gave Ohio State the lead for good. The defense picked Blake Sims off three times, returning one for a TD.
“I don’t think we could have proved more of a point than by beating this team,” Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa said.
If Oregon and Ohio State can put on half the shows they did Thursday, this first title game is going to be all kinds of fun. And that’s why we wanted a playoff in the first place, because the BCS routinely managed to suck the fun out of college football.
Instead of the usual griping and grumbling, the two best teams will be playing for the national title. You can’t argue with that.
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