Three CBS Sports Radio gurus got together Tuesday morning to discuss Ohio State’s 42-20 destruction of Oregon in the national championship.
Brian Jones picked Ohio State to win the game, but he had the Buckeyes winning 34-31.
“I thought it would be a little bit closer than it ended up being,” the Gio and Jones co-host and CBS Sports college football analyst said on Tiki and Tierney. “I just thought Ohio State, with their speed, they could hang with Oregon.”
They did. In fact, if anything, Oregon had trouble hanging with Ohio State, which rushed 61 times for 296 yards and five touchdowns. Sophomore tailback Ezekiel Elliott, who rushed for 220 yards against Wisconsin and 230 yards against Alabama, saved his best performance for last, carrying 36 times for 246 yards and four touchdowns.
“He picked up where he left off,” Jones said. “That guy’s a beast. He’s a joy to watch.”
Oregon, meanwhile, simply couldn’t keep up. The Ducks scored with ease on their opening drive, but a couple of drops on third down proved costly in the first half.
“You got to make those plays,” Jones said. “I don’t want to say they’re routine, but the ball’s right there in your hands. Catch them. And then not turning those turnovers into points. And kicking field goals. You can’t kick field goals in games like this. You got to score (touchdowns) when you get in the red zone. All three of those will kill you, especially in a game of that magnitude. Ohio State was just a better team. They’re a more physical team all season long.”
Given Oregon’s losses in recent years – Ohio State (twice), Stanford (twice), LSU, Auburn, etc. – it’s fair to question whether the Ducks can truly hang with the big boys.
“There’s still a lot of work left to do,” Jones said. “They were just overwhelmed. Guys, that game could have been over in the first half. It should have been 35-7 in the first half if not for those turnovers by Ohio State.”
Indeed, the Buckeyes committed four turnovers – two in each half – and at least three of them were completely self-inflicted. No matter. The Buckeyes controlled both lines of scrimmage throughout.
The most telling play, perhaps, was Cardale Jones bulldozing through an Oregon defensive lineman for a first down.
“This guy runs over a nose tackle,” Jones said, amazed. “Usually the low man wins. Not in this case. It was Cardale Jones that won.”
Jones finished 16-of-23 for 242 yards, one touchdown and one interception and also ran for 38 yards and a score. Marcus Mariota, meanwhile, was 24-of-37 for 333 yards, two touchdowns, a pick and also ran for 39 yards.
Both quarterbacks are draft eligible.
“It’s a very interesting dilemma for both of these guys,” Jones said. “Mariota, it seems like he’s been there forever, and he can still hang out there at Oregon. He’s got the ultimate offensive trophy and the Heisman. Does he still have that hunger to get back to a title game? You know they’re going to continue to recruit well, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he stayed.
“Cardale Jones, a totally different dilemma,” Jones continued. “Here’s a guy that has that pro size that you want. He’s got a howitzer for an arm. We saw him make some tight throws last night and throughout these three ball games he’s played in. I think he’s got to look hard and fast at what they’re saying at the next level. You’ve got a small sample, but they’ve been in the biggest ball games.
“I think you’ve got to covet his skill set. He’s an athletic guy for being so big, so I think he’s got to look long and hard at what they’re saying, where they have him slated. Because I could see this kid – just on the strength of those three games – being at least a second or third rounder.”