ATTENTION ALL OREGON DUCKS FANS, TOMORROW NIGHT IS THE BIGGEST GAME OF THE SEASON. I REPEAT, TOMORROW IS THE BIGGEST GAME OF THE SEASON!
Everyone, everywhere has been preparing for this matchup since January 1 and now it’s almost time for our men to take the field. In an article on cleveland.com by Rich Exner, he goes over 13 ways to size up the Ducks and the Buckeyes. Here are the top seven that Exner talked about:
1. Toughest schedules. ”The Buckeyes’ opponents have a 94-62 record (.603) vs. other major college teams. Oregon is ranked 12th at 78-54 (.591).” There has been a lot of talk that Ohio State is only in this game because they had an easy schedule throughout the season, but NCAA rankings show that Ohio State had the seventh toughest schedule in the country. Whether or not we think they deserve to be here doesn’t matter, they obviously have worked their butts off to get here and I doubt they will play any less than their very best tomorrow night.
2. Win Streaks. “Ohio State’s 12-game winning streak, dating back to a loss in Week 2 to Virginia Tech, is the longest in the country. But Oregon is close behind. The Ducks have won nine straight after losing to Arizona. That gives Oregon the fourth longest streak.” Although we both have had a nice, long winning-streak, by tomorrow night someone’s streak is going to come to an end. Our Ducks have been pretty determined in every game since the loss to Arizona early in the season to ensure they pound every opponent into the ground and I doubt this game will be an exception.
3. Crowds. “The national championship game is a big game on a big stage. Attendance is expected to be close to 80,000.” Exner explains that that big of a stage isn’t a big deal for Ohio State as they ranked first in the country for home attendance at 106,296. Our Ducks had a home attendance of 57,422 but everyone knows home attendance in Autzen stadium is a whole different story. Now, who’s gonna be showing up in Texas to out-yell those Buckeyes?!
4. Plays. When we have the ball, our Ducks play a quick and speedy offense that opponents have a hard time keeping up with. We average 11 more plays a game than Ohio on the offensive side of the field and our defense averages 77.4 plays a game to Ohio States 68.6. Our Ducks played with the fastest tempo we’ve seen all season in the Rose Bowl and FSU had a hard time keeping up. I expect the same difficulties for Ohio State if our men keep up the pace throughout the game.
5. Time of Possession. “Oregon ranks 117th among the 125 major college teams in time of possession, holding the ball on average for just 27:07 a game. One reason, no doubt, is because Oregon scores so quickly. Ohio State averages better than 31 minutes a game on offense.” Our Ducks are averaging 40+ points a game and only holding the ball for approximately 27 minutes a game?! I bet that ball starts feeling pretty heavy after awhile for our opponents.
6. Passing Clash. “Oregon’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota is No. 1 in the country for passing efficiency, with a rating of 184.4.” Exner explains that Ohio State ranks fourth in the country for passing efficiency at 104.79. But our Duck defense has been getting stronger and stronger each game and that was extremely evident in the Rose Bowl, especially in the red zone. With our beloved Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and our not-so-soft defense, passing efficiency will be in our hands for both teams.
7. Penalties. “Oregon was penalized for 1,008 yards over 14 games, ranking the Ducks 115th in penalty yards per game. In comparison, Ohio State has been penalized for only 681 yards.” I have noticed various penalties called on our Ducks throughout the season and at times they have hurt us but obviously not enough to truly affect our game! Penalties are simply small obstacles that every team experiences throughout the game.
The remaining points that Exner discusses are: Third-downs, Turnovers, Interceptions, Defense TD’s, First Downs and Zero. Now that article was written in favor of Ohio State but I love to expand on articles like this because it gives me a chance to point out how the Ducks play as opposed to how their statistics say we play. Although statistics are a huge factor when it comes to sports, what happens on the field and what happens on paper can be portrayed as two very different things and you cannot base your reasoning on why your team is better than anyone based on what you see on paper.
Our Ducks go out on that field every game and play their hearts out. Every team makes mistakes, gets penalties called on them, has more home-field attendance than their opponent, etc. It’s all a part of the game. What happens on the field tomorrow will be based solely on the field game and I’m confident that what happens on the field tomorrow will translate very nicely onto paper. Goodluck Buckeyes, our Ducks are going to be hard to stop. GO DUCKS!
Top Photo by Kevin Cline