Sure, when we think about football and break down games, our attention naturally gravitates toward offense and defense. We think about how teams are going to score points, and how they’re going to stop the other squad from getting in the endzone. We think about the quarterbacks, the skill players, the guys in the trenches. But there’s always that hidden third facet of the football game that can drastically change the game on a single play in a way few snaps during the normal run of play.
Special teams are an often-overlooked part of football, especially at the college level. But they’re not called special teams for the fun of it; having a weapon that can get you three critical points, pin the opposition back deep in its own territory, or reverse a seeming disadvantage on a deep punt or kickoff into good field position or even a touchdown is the elusive final ingredient that can derail a championship side if it is absent.
As Ohio State and Oregon prepare to square off in Arlington on Monday, we wrap up our breakdown of the two championship contenders with a comparison of their respective kicking, punting, and return games. With the championship game approaching rapidly, let’s flip through and familiarize ourselves with the kicking specialists and the return men and break down who has the advantage in the various special teams disciplines. (If you haven’t yet seen the offensive breakdown, you can find it here. And if you haven’t yet seen the defensive breakdown, you can find that here as well. Stay tuned for our final predictions for the College Football Playoff national championship later this week.)