Oregon: Five keys to a championship

First Posted: 1/6/2015

1. Set the tempo of the game.

When people talk about Oregon’s speed, the discussion is not just about straight-line speed.

The Ducks have plenty of that. But their speed also includes running off plays as fast as possible to wear down opposing defenses or catch them off guard.

The Ducks practice this and do it about as well as anyone. The fatigue factor in their opponents probably plays a role in Oregon’s offense scoring in two minutes or less on 42 scoring drives this season.

2. Get the lead and continue to apply pressure.

Oregon comes into the College Football Playoff national championship game on a nine-game winning streak. It has not trailed during the second half in any of those contests.

Also, every one of its 13 victories except a 38-31 decision over Washington State, has been by double figures.

3. Work the turnover margin.

Oregon has committed only 10 turnovers all season, compared to 22 by Ohio State.

The Ducks’ rout of Florida State in a national semifinal in the Rose Bowl was helped by five FSU turnovers. They rank No. 2 nationally in turnover margin at plus 20 in 14 games from 30 forced turnovers.

OSU is plus 10, with 32 takeways and 22 turnovers of its own.

4. Run the ball.

The quarterback is a Heisman Trophy winner. The offense is No. 2 in the country at 47.2 points a game. The phrase pass happy comes to mind. But, surprise, Oregon has a 1,000-yard rusher, it led the Pac-12 in rushing and it has had a 1,000-yard rusher for the last eight seasons.

If Oregon can run the ball effectively, it makes it harder for Ohio State’s Joey Bosa, Michael Bennett and linebacker Darron Lee to put pressure on Mariota.

5. Pressure Cardale Jones to make snap decisions.

When Ohio State’s Cardale Jones has time to survey the field, looking for a receiver or deciding to take off running, he is very effective. With defenders in his face, he sometimes makes a wrong decision.

Alabama tried to make Jones look like a third-stringer and was successful for a while. If Oregon can accomplish that for four quarters, it could be lights out for Ohio State.

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