National championship sneak peek: No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 4 Ohio State – OregonLive.com
No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 4 Ohio State
When: Jan. 12 at 5:30 p.m. PT, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Records: Oregon (13-1); Ohio State (13-1)
Buckeyes this season: Third-string quarterback Cardale Jones has played magnificently in relief of injured Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett in his two starts. He’s thrown six touchdowns against one interception and has a 159.0 passer rating, which would rank seventh-best nationally if it held for the entire season. He must be more accurate, however; he’s completing 58 percent of his passes, 10 percentage points lower than Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, for reference. In the backfield he’s joined by leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott, averaging 116.6 yards on the ground (20th best nationally). Devin Smith is the leading receiver, whose 63.3 yards per game don’t reflect the explosive season he’s having: 12 of his 32 receptions have gone for touchdowns. Ohio State’s 45.0 points per game rank fifth nationally, while its 22.1 points allowed is 26th. A stout secondary ranks fourth-best in passing efficiency defense.
Star power: Defensive end Joey Bosa. Bosa led the Big Ten in both sacks, with 13.5, and tackles for loss, with 20.0. Those marks rank fourth and eight-most nationally. Just a sophomore, Bosa won Big Ten defensive player of the year and was a finalist for the Lombardi, Hendricks and Bednarik awards that crown the nation’s best defender. Perhaps most memorably, Bosa ended a double-overtime victory at Penn State with a sack after bulldozing through a Nittany Lions running back.
Did you know: Few coaches have a better postseason track record than Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, who is 8-2 in bowls and 2-0 in national championship games, winning in the 2006 and 2008 seasons with Florida. Meyer is 16-5 in neutral site games, whether postseason or not.
Threat level (1-5 scale): 5. Oregon’s reward for ending Florida State’s 29-game winning streak is facing Ohio State, whose 12-game streak is now the nation’s longest.
Early prediction: Oregon 42, Ohio State 30
— Andrew Greif | @andrewgreif