CFP National Championship: Buckeyes vs. Ducks

Ben Stockwell reviews Elliot, Mariota and more standout performances from Ohio State's win over Oregon in the College Football Playoffs National Championship game.

| 2 years ago

CFP National Championship: Buckeyes vs. Ducks

CFF-REFO-CFP-ChampionshipA historic season of college football came to a close last night in Arlington with the Ohio State Buckeyes clinching the national title at the culmination of the first ever College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes scraped in to the playoff field but demolished the top two seeds en route to their first national championship in more than a decade.

A close first half were both defensive lines appeared to have the edge in the trenches gave way to a lopsided second half in favor of the Buckeyes. Ohio State’s offensive line took over and all that threatened Ohio State’s supremacy was their own poor ball security in the third quarter. Once their offensive line got to grips with the Ducks’ defensive line they wore them down and set the stage for Ezekiel Elliot to wreak havoc time and again at the second level of the Oregon defense, finishing the game emphatically with the final touchdown off Taylor Decker’s block.

Oregon Ducks – Performances of Note

Marcus Mariota, QB: +5.4

Breakdown: Mariota got off to the fast start using his mobility to open up passing lanes down the field, notably on the opening touchdown evading quick pressure inside and finding Keanon Lowe open in the end zone when Vonn Bell vacated his coverage early. However, his fine work early in the game wasn’t matched in the second half when the Buckeyes’ physicality took the game away from the Ducks. After his 70-yard touchdown pass on a busted coverage to Byron Marshall, Mariota finished the game just 5-of-13 in the last 20 minutes of the game.

Signature Stat: Mariota lost out on some big plays through no fault of his own, on top of Eli Apple’s force-out, Mariota lost at least 59 yards on four passes dropped by his receivers last night.

Tyrell Crosby, RT: -8.6

Breakdown: One of the stars of the Ducks semi final win over Florida State in the Rose Bowl, Crosby went to the opposite end of the spectrum last night in a disastrous performance against Joey Bosa. The freshman acquitted himself well against Florida State’s defense, working particularly well as a run blocker, but last night when the Ducks were pressed into chasing the game, he was simply outmatched in obvious passing situations.

Signature Stat: Against the Seminoles, Oregon averaged 9.7 yards on six carries off right tackle. Last night the Ducks gained only 7 yards on three carries off Crosby’s outside shoulder.

Team Run Defense: -21.1

Breakdown: The final analysis makes for some grim reading for the Ducks on the ground, whether you go by stats, grades or watching the tape again. The likes of Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner helped Oregon hold their own in the first half, but when they wore down in the second half there was no one to pick up the slack. The inside linebackers struggled in particular, whether they were taken out of the play by blockers or doing the damage themselves by simply over-running the play.

Signature Stat: Oregon defenders missed 13 tackles last night and surrendered 3.3 yards per carry after first contact.

Ohio State Buckeyes – Performances of Note

Ezekiel Elliot, RB: +7.0

Breakdown: Apparently demolishing Alabama’s vaunted run defense wasn’t enough for Elliot this month, he just had to go and do it again. Topping 200 yards for the second time in the playoffs, Elliott took advantage of numerous opportunities to bust into the second level and physically impose himself on the Oregon defenders. In the two playoff games combined, Elliot broke 13 tackles on the ground and averaged 4.3 yards per carry after contact as he drove the Ohio State offense to the national title.

Signature Play: Elliot leveled the game with 4:44 remaining in the opening quarter with his best run of the night. A sharp cut through a tight crease at the line of scrimmage got him on to the Oregon safeties, beating both of them across the field to break up the left side for a scintillating score.

Darron Lee, LB: +5.1

Breakdown: The Ducks would have loved to have had a player like Lee at the second level for them last night. The redshirt freshman contributed in all three phases of the game collecting five pressures (only bettered by Joey Bosa), three stops against the run, and breaking up a pass intended for Dwayne Stanford which could have gone for a big play in behind him early in the fourth quarter.

Signature Play: One of Lee’s positive plays a pass rusher came against Oregon’s left tackle Jake Fisher at Q2 12.39, beating Fisher quickly to his inside and only denied a bigger play by Mariota quickly spotting a coverage bust up the right sideline.

Taylor Decker, LT: +3.4

Breakdown: Much like the rest of the Buckeyes’ ground game, Decker did the majority of his damage in the second half. On occasion he struggled with the length of the Oregon defensive ends, but as they wore down his power was a major factor in Ezekiel Elliot getting so many clear paths into the second level.

Signature Stat: The Buckeyes gained 93 yards and two touchdowns outside of Decker last night, including the final touchdown that he keyed with a punishing block on Sam Kamp.

PFF Game Ball

His offensive line gave him an excellent platform in the second half, but Ezekiel Elliot stole the show last night in a dominant display to cap off a spectacular playoff run.


Follow Ben on Twitter: @PFF_Ben


For full grades for Oregon and Ohio State, turn to Page 2…

| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

  • Jason Williams

    is there any way to watch replays of these games ala NFL Game Rewind? I don’t mind CFB but I’m just not a guy who sits in front of a TV for 3-4 hours.

    • Calvin Wasdyke

      one of the espn channels (U, Classic) will definitely have a ton of reruns

  • Chris

    Zeke won this game for them. And IMO Cardale Jones looks like JaMarcus Russell 2.0. Huge guy who runs over people instead of around them, a cannon that can take deep shots, but no accuracy in the intermediate game.

    • a57se

      Apparently he also had the ‘I don’t care about anything’ attitude of Russell as well….
      Maybe now he has a child, that has changed?

    • Izach

      Honestly I don’t see the inaccuracy your talkin about seemed to put a good amount of touch and power on a lot of his throws, needs to read lanes better in choosing when to run but over all was good,

  • a57se

    +5.4 for Mariota seems very generous considering how poorly he performed when they needed him most.

    • Calvin Wasdyke

      didn’t throw of incompletions I guess.

    • Calvin Wasdyke

      tons of drops.

      • Izach

        But a lot of the drops were also bad throws, he had more than a few bad throws and even some catches were more WR than Mariota, very surprised Mariota grade was so high

        • k.smith

          lol. you people gave excuses for winston’s dropped passes, and no, they weren’t perfect passes or even that accurate, yet you want to put as much blame as possible on Mariota for his dropped passes.

          • Izach

            Actually winston a WRs deserved blame for dropping passes, just like that Ohio state WR who dropped the pass that gave oregon an INT. A lot of Mariotas passes were not “good passes” even if they were or were not caught, Oregons scheme hides those passes however by havin WRs wide open, if you watch the QB and not the result of the play you’ll see that

          • k.smith

            You’re blaming Mariota for the flaws of his OFFENSE. You’re confusing the two. You watched the game with your winston-homer glasses. If anything, he showed more this game than the game in which UO absolutely murdered FSU. That’s why he got the higher score from PFW.

            Winston makes bad throws, tries to do too much, locks on to his first option more than I thought he would, doesn’t handle the pocket well under pressure and has worse upper body mechanics than Mariota. Both guys have flaws but they’re pretty good prospects.

          • Izach

            My critiques of Mariota lie more In the unknown than with him, his offense doesn’t ask him to do much so he looks good, it’s like asking a college kid and a 7th grader to take a 2nd grade math test, both will likely ace it. That’s Mariota in Oregons scheme, you have to try to look past the scheme and it’s difficult.

          • Izach

            Also i never said Mariota didn’t do better this game was just surprised by the grade. I believe they attribute too much of “good” passing grades to him.

        • Calvin Wasdyke

          I agree with the grading part. His lower body mechanics are straight up terrible. Coming out of the Oregon offense also worries me. Jameis is a lot better.

    • k.smith

      here is some pepper for your salt.

  • Jay

    Hey PFF the national championship game would be the perfect opportunity to do A notebook. I am very interested in Mariotta’s pocket presence.

    • Izach

      I was expecting maybe a +2 from Mariota, too many mistake IMO for his grade to be that high in passing,

  • Mike

    I think alot of these stats/grades are awesomely accurate, but I cant believe Taylor Decker graded in the negative in Pass Blocking. From the plays that I saw, he was rock solid. Maybe it just so happens that the plays I focused on him were all of his good ones.