MSU's Mark Dantonio breaks down Oregon-Ohio State – USA TODAY
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Just to be clear, Mark Dantonio would like to see Ohio State beat Oregon in the national title game for the good of the Big Ten at large – though he took the chance Monday to reiterate his issues with evaluations of conference perception that are suddenly favoring his league again.
“You win a game 42-41, does that mean we’re better than the Big 12?” he said of the No. 7 Spartans’ Cotton Bowl win over No. 5 Baylor to finish 11-2. “There’s so much parity in college football that on any given day, depending on turnovers or blocked kicks or whatever, that football team is capable of beating another football team.”
Dantonio was a man in demand Monday, doing a teleconference for the 20-plus media outlets from around the country seeking his OSU-Oregon analysis – Dantonio is the only coach to see them both this season, losing 46-27 at Oregon on Sept. 6 and 49-37 at home to Ohio State on Nov. 8. He’ll also see them both next season. For now, he’s the most qualified analyst out there for the Jan. 12 matchup, and he broke down:
The two offenses:
“They are the same but different. They both create run-pass conflicts. I think they both have coaches that are on the cutting edge of what we see now as offensive football. I think both coaches always come with something a little bit different that you may not see as a fan, but as a coach you tend to see those little differences after you’ve studied them. So I think they’ll both bring something a little bit new, both difficult to prepare for.”
The two defenses:
“Oregon’s more of a 3-4 defense. They will get some 4-3, but more of a 3-4 defense, big defensive ends. Ohio State’s more of a 4-3. Linebackers, impressive linebackers. Great skill set in the secondary as well. Their coverage package I think is different. You’d have to look a little deeper into that to recognize that fact. Their coverage package is a little bit different and that’s probably the biggest differences.”
The quarterback matchup:
“(Oregon’s Marcus Mariota is) extremely gifted in terms of riding the fake out. You can see a couple times in the film where our guys are sitting right there and eyes on the ball, eyes on him and we lose him. And then, you know, in the pocket getting out of problems. He’s a fast guy, he’s extremely elusive, and we had him dead to rights two times on two third downs when we were ahead in the football game by nine, and he got out of those situations and created a couple plays which led to first downs which ultimately led to scores, and that’s what opened it up and all of a sudden they were back on top. … I have not played against Cardale Jones, but Ohio State, you have to really credit the coaching at Ohio State because they have developed the next-man-in mentality. And their quarterback, whoever that guy is, is going to be successful.”
What the head coaches’ top concerns will be:
“You’re always going to be concerned about turnovers and how your special teams play. I think those are big factors in any football game that need to be discussed over and over. So it’s about ball security and about decision making and also your special teams. I mean, they’re going to do what they do, both teams do what they do to some extent. But there’s going to be tweaks, and there’s going to be something that’s new and then adjusting to whatever the newness is.”
Joe Rexrode writes for the Detroit Free Press.
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