The college football world is a week away from the biggest event in its centuries-long history, as the top division of the sport holds its first ever playoff-style tournament culminating in a national championship game. Instead of the BCS era, which guaranteed the pairing of a nebulous one-versus-two (that would have been Alabama and Florida State this year under the old system), we get a battle that would have been relegated to the Rose Bowl as an prelude to the championship.
With a 59-20 demolition of until-then-undefeated Florida State, Oregon claimed the Rose Bowl and one spot in the title game. The Ducks forced five turnovers in the second half, turning a game that was just 18-13 at halftime into a blowout. Against a team that had won 29 straight games and entered the season as the defending national champion, Oregon’s offense set Rose Bowl records for points scored and yardage gained while the defense held the Seminoles to just 20 points. By the end of the third quarter the Ducks had already started to book their trip to the Dallas Metroplex.
They were joined by Ohio State when the Buckeyes came back against and then fended off Alabama for a 42-35 victory in the Sugar Bowl. With a third-string quarterback on the preseason depth chart making his second career start against the sport’s standard-bearer during Nick Saban’s tenure in Tuscaloosa, Ohio State chewed up the yardage on offense to roll over the Tide. Alabama’s skill players could never gain any momentum once the Buckeyes reversed a 21-6 deficit, as Tide quarterback Blake Sims threw three interceptions — including one on the final play of the game to thwart a potential comeback and overtime.
The Pac-12 and Big Ten champions will meet for the ninth time in the long histories of their respective programs, the most recent coming five years ago in Pasadena in the Rose Bowl. Ohio State has won all eight prior meetings, putting history on their side in this matchup, but none of the players on either sideline factored into the most recent result.
It’s a brand new day for the sport and for both of these two teams, who were gifted an opportunity by the College Football Playoff that would not have existed over the past 16 years or at any previous time in the game’s history. As the showdown at AT&T Stadium nears, let’s flip through and familiarize ourselves with the offensive lineups and break down who has the advantage at the various levels of the teams’ offenses. Stay tuned for our defensive breakdown.