Based on their first 14 games, Ohio State and Oregon might produce a high-scoring affair in the first College Football Playoff national championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Monday night.
The Ducks rank second nationally in scoring at 47.2 points a game and OSU is fifth at 45.0. Oregon is third nationally in total offense at 552.9 yards a game and Ohio State is ninth at 509.7 yards.
And, while the perception of Oregon’s image begins with speed and Ohio State’s starts with power, they each know how to play the other’s game.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, whose team was the only one to play both teams in the national championship match-up, says the Buckeyes and Ducks are “the same but different” in how they approach offense.
Dantonio, talking on a teleconference on Jan. 5, said, “They both create run-pass conflicts. I think they both have coaches that are on the cutting edge of what we see now as offensive football.”
Both teams run a variation of the spread offense, but both run the ball better than many people think. Neither of them is likely to have a game in which they have 500 yards passing and 50 yards rushing.
OSU and Oregon were the only teams from Power Five conferences (Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Big 12, Pac-12) who rushed and passed for more than 3,000 yards this season. They were the only teams in those conferences to average more than 7.0 yards per play.
Ezekiel Elliott (1,632 yards) is the second consecutive 1,000-yard rusher for Urban Meyer after he had not had a running back gain that many yards in his career before Carlos Hyde did it last year.
Oregon led the Pac-12 in rushing this season and has had a 1,000-yard rusher eight years in a row under three different coaches. This year’s leading runner is freshman Royce Freeman (1,343 yards, 18 touchdowns).
Maybe the biggest difference is in the time of possession. Both teams have quick strike capabilities. But Oregon has built a reputation for putting opponents in a hole quickly with big plays and short drives.
Oregon has had 41 scoring drives that have taken under two minutes this season and ranks 117th in time of possession among major college teams.
Ohio State ranks 37th in time of possession by its offense. But the difference between No. 37 and No. 117 is not huge. The Buckeyes keep the ball 31 minutes a game on average and Oregon has it 27 minutes a game.
Michigan State learned about Oregon’s ability to strike quickly when the Ducks got three touchdowns in 5 minutes, 14 seconds in the second half on their way to a 46-27 win. So did Florida State in the Rose Bowl when Oregon got five touchdowns (four offensive, one defensive) in 11 minutes, 30 seconds in its 59-20 win over FSU.