Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ducks? Or Bucks?

A man would have to be crazy, or at least mildly touched in the head, to pick a football team led by a third-string quarterback over a football team led by a guy who just won the Heisman Trophy.

Yet somehow a lot of people are doing that, as Ohio State (with third-stringer Cardale Jones) takes on Oregon (with Heisman winner Marcus Mariota) in the inaugural national championship game down there in the Jerry Dome.


Well, faithful followers of the Blob (pipe down, you two) already know I'm  mildly touched, if by"mildly touched" you mean "if he had a brain, he'd be outside playing with it." So no real surprise that I'm going with Ohio State, too.

Just to be clear, I'm not going with the Buckeyes because of the Midwest/Big Ten thing. As far as I'm concerned, the Big Ten left its Midwestern identity at the curb when it added an ACC school (Maryland) and a Big East school (Rutgers) so it could tap into all that East Coast TV dough. Now it's just another corporate entity with its hand out, which means it's no longer a conference toward which Midwesterners should feel any particular affinity. Because it no longer has any for them.

So this isn't a regional thing. It's an eye test thing.

The eye test happened in the Sugar Bowl, when the Buckeyes handled the pride of the supposedly invincible SEC West, Alabama, with unbecoming ease. You could tell five minutes in that not only did the Buckeyes have just as many athletes as Alabama -- and maybe more, considering they attacked the Crimson Tide where no one attacks it, on the edge, and made it work -- they were, in fact, the superior  team. After gifting 'Bama with two early touchdowns to go down 21-6, they outscored the Tide 36-14 the rest of the way.

Think about that: 36-14. That, friends, is a rump-roastin'.

Now comes Oregon, which is missing two key receivers (Darren Carrington and Devon Allen) and wins big because it plays at warp speed and scores points in bunches. Inevitably, when Oregon wins, the game turns on a seven-or-eight-minute window when the Ducks lay on four or five scores. After that, it's arrivederci.

But as the Buckeyes proved against Alabama, they have the athletes to withstand that minute window. And they have the best coach in college football, the occasionally insufferable but brilliant Urban Meyer, who's had 12 days to mull over how he's going to keep the Ducks somewhere around the speed limit.

Says here he'll have figured it out by now. And if he has -- if the Ducks can't bury the Buckeyes early, or if that window doesn't crack open for them the way it usually does -- Oregon's in trouble. Because Ohio State has athletes on the offensive side, too, and they'll be facing an Oregon defense that's not nearly as gnarly as Alabama's was.

So. Let's call it Ohio State 44, Oregon 40.


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