Well, here we are. If the Rosebowl is the “Granddaddy of them all”, next Monday about 30 miles from where I write this, in Frisco, TX, will take place the berth of a whole new family tree. In Arlington, TX at AT&T stadium, aka, “Jerry’s World”, we will finally have a no-kidding, honest-to-goodness (and, ohhh is it so good!) National Championship Game in college football.
Hey, it only took 145 years…I guess we can wait another 7 days to watch this culmination!
I’ll start my inserting my numbers, and we’ll go from there:
Ok, so the middle column “Raw Line”, are the numbers I land at. I consider this model more indicative of a spread, than a total line. None-the-less, my totals have been within a point of Vegas’ opening total in 85% of the bowls.
I’ve got Oregon by 5. A combination of my raw line, and weighted scoring margin differential (6.8 & 3.0).
If you focus on the far right columns, and look at those metrics, it’s Ohio State that enjoys a slight advantage in Yards Per Play (YPP) differential, and Points Per Play (PPP) differential.
Where Oregon overcomes Ohio State in both weight scoring margin, and across all of those other metrics, is in Strength of Schedule (SOS), and Margin of Victory (MV).
So the metrics lean towards Oregon.
What about schemes, familiarity, and 11-12 days of preparation?
This is a two-phased analysis for me. In terms of preparation, readiness and familiarity across the roster, including those on scout team, this advantage leans heavily towards Oregon. Why? Because this is essentially like them going from Stanford in physicality on the OL, and pro-style sets, to most of the other teams in the PAC-12 that employ HUNH (Hurry-up, No-Huddle) high-tempo spread teams (E.g. Arizona, UCLA, ASU, Cal, etc.).
Ohio State simply doesn’t face a single team like Oregon’s in terms of team-speed on both sides of the ball through their whole schedule. However, Ohio State most definitely has the speed and the athletes to give their first teams a very good look, and they are well-versed in running the up-tempo themselves.
Now, in terms of having 11 days of game preparation, is there anyone else you’d want than Urban Meyer? He has made his case as the best coach in the entire nation, this year. Loses two Heisman trophy candidate level QB’s…in a single season?! And all he did was get QB number three prepared to shred a Nick Saban defense in only his second career start! Oh, and in the first, his ‘barrel full of nerves’ only rolled-up 59 points on a Wisconsin team that turned around and beat Auburn.
One more schematic note; I think Ohio State will get a rude wake-up call when they step on the field and face that speed from Eugene for the first time in person. From pulling OG’s on stretch runs, to the speed at which safeties come downhill. That’s not schematic, but this is: Ohio State schemed to take Amari Cooper out of the game vs. Alabama. They rolled a safety over top throughout the game, and dared Blake Sims to make NFL type of passes if he was going to get it to Cooper. Defending Oregon is a much, much different task.
Oregon doesn’t always know what they’re going to do pre-snap! There are a number of reads that Mariota is asked to make post-snap, which includes many plays that are run/pass/keep options, on which Mariota could be keying a DE, a CB, or a even a LB or S. Oregon’s/Chip Kelly’s offense is the quintessential ‘take what the defense gives you’ type of offense, with the QB being a true Point Guard, distributing the ball as they ‘run the break’, vs. the more traditional drop & read progressions passing offense.
So do I have a lean? Just ever so slightly towards Oregon, and I lean Oregon late. There’s no doubt that the tempo at which Oregon runs their offense eventually starts to kick Defensive Line ass. It’s like running gassers (remember those?). I think OSU’s front-7, mostly built for the ground & pound of the Big-10, wears down late in the 3rd quarter, and if they’re not up 21 points on Oregon (which I don’t see), then watch out.
I think Oregon wins 41-37, and Marcus Mariota caps off a dream season by being game MVP with an almost flawless performance.