College Football Playoff Championship Betting Preview: #2 Oregon Ducks vs #4 Ohio State Buckeyes

2015 College Football Playoff Championship
#2 Oregon Ducks vs #4 Ohio State Buckeyes

AT&T Stadium – Arlington Texas
Monday, January 12, 2015, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Oregon -6
Current Line: Oregon -5 1/2
Opening Total: 68 1/2
Current Total: 75
Opening Money Line: Oregon -264 / Ohio State +236
Current Money Line: Oregon -200 / Ohio State +170 

Oregon is a 5.5 point favorite against Ohio State in the first ever college football playoff championship game Monday.
Oregon is a 5.5 point favorite against Ohio State in the first ever college football playoff championship game Monday.

The first ever college football playoff championship game matches the 13-1 Oregon Ducks and 13-1 Ohio State Buckeyes Monday night in Arlington, Texas. Oregon has won 9 straight games and won the Pac 12 Championship with a 51-13 win over Arizona. The Ducks were seeded #2 in the playoff and destroyed #3 Florida State 59-20 in the Rose Bowl semifinal. FSU had won 29 straight games before then and were the defending national champions.

Ohio State won the Big Ten Championship by beating Wisconsin 59-0. The Buckeyes were selected as the #4 seed in the playoff over Big 12 co-champions Baylor and TCU. The Buckeyes justified their spot in the playoff by upsetting #1 Alabama 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl semifinal.

Ohio State and Oregon meeting in the Championship game marks the first time since 2005 that an SEC team is not in the championship when Texas upset USC. Ohio State is looking for their first  national title since 2002 and 8th overall. The Buckeyes are 20-24 all-time in bowl games. The Alabama win snapped a two game bowl losing streak for Ohio State.

Oregon is 13-15 all-time in bowl games. The Ducks have won 4 straight bowl games. Oregon has never won a national title in football but lost to Auburn in the 2011 BCS Championship game.

Ohio State leads the series 8-0 against Oregon. The Buckeyes are 2-0 against the Ducks in post-season games including 26-17 in the 2010 Rose Bowl. Before the 2010 meeting, the teams had not played since 1987.

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Ohio State is coached by Urban Meyer. The only loss for the Buckeyes came at home to Virginia Tech 35-21. Ohio State has won 12 straight games since then. The Buckeyes have home wins over Kent State 66-0, Cincinnati 50-28, Rutgers 56-17, Illinois 55-14, Indiana 42-27, and Michigan 42-28. Ohio State has road wins over Navy 34-17, Maryland 52-24, Penn State 31-24 in double overtime, Michigan State 49-37 and Minnesota 31-24. The Buckeyes are 9-5 ATS and the total is 12-2 this season. Ohio State was a 7.5 point underdog against Alabama and the total was 58.

Oregon is coached by Mark Helfrich. The Ducks have home wins over South Dakota 62-13, Michigan State 46-27, Wyoming 48-14, Washington 45-20, Stanford 45-16 and Colorado 44-10. Oregon has road wins at Washington State 38-31, at UCLA 42-30, at California 59-41, Utah 51-27, and at Oregon State 47-19. The Ducks were 7.5 point favorites against Florida State and the total was 74. Oregon is 10-4 ATS and the total is 7-6-1 this season.

Ohio State is outscoring teams 45-22 this season. The Buckeyes are #5 in scoring and #26 in points allowed nationally. Ohio State is averaging 510 yards per game on offense including 248 passing and 262 rushing yards. The Buckeyes are #9 in total offense and #10 in rushing. On defense, OSU is allowing 333 yards per game including 192 passing and 142 rushing yards. The Buckeyes are #16 nationally in total and #15 in pass defense and #34 in rush defense. Ohio State is +10 in turnovers with 32 takeaways. The Buckeyes average 49 penalty yards per game and opponents average 44. Ohio State is 105/202 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 81/217. The Buckeyes have forced 43 sacks and allowed 27 this season. OSU is 58/69 scoring in the red zone with 48 touchdowns and opponents are 35/41 with 30 touchdowns. The Buckeyes have a punt return for a touchdown and 6 defensive touchdowns, and have allowed 2 pick sixes.

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller missed the entire season with a shoulder injury. Freshman J.T. Barrett did well as his replacement and even generated some Heisman buzz. However, Barrett broke his ankle in the regular season finale against Michigan. Cardale Jones started the last two games against Wisconsin and Alabama. Barrett threw for 2,834 yards with 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and rushed for 938 yards on 171 carries with 11 touchdowns. Jones has thrown for 618 yards with 6 touchdowns and an interception and has 51 carries for 258 yards.

Running back Ezekiel Elliot has 237 carries for 1,632 yards with 14 touchdowns, plus 27 catches for 221 yards. Curtis Samuel has 57 carries for 377 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 10 catches. Rod Smith has 4 rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown. Dontre Wilson has 3 receiving touchdowns and is probable with a foot injury.

Receiver Devin Smith has 32 catches for 886 yards and 12 touchdowns. Michael Thomas has 50 catches for 746 yards and 9 touchdowns. Jalin Marshall has 33 catches for 447 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 23 carries for 142 yards and a touchdown. Marshall also has a punt return for a touchdown. Nick Varnett and Evan Spencer have combined for 7 touchdown catches.

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Oregon is outscoring teams 47-22 this season. Oregon is #2 nationally in scoring and #27 in points allowed. The Ducks average 552 yards per game including 310 passing and 242 rushing yards. Oregon is #3 in total offense and #11 in passing. Even the rushing attack is #18 in the country. Oregon is allowing 422 yards per game on defense, including 266 passing and 156 rushing yards. Oregon is #111 in pass defense and #86 in total defense out of 128 teams. The Ducks are +20 in turnovers for the season with 30 takeaways. Oregon is 113/212 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 110/263. The Ducks have forced 36 sacks and allowed 29. Oregon is 66/76 scoring in the red zone with 51 touchdowns, and opponents are 45/54 with 32 touchdowns. The Ducks are averaging 72 penalty yards per game, and opponents are averaging 56. Oregon has 2 punt returns for touchdowns and 2 fumble returns for a touchdown.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy last month. Mariota has completed 68.6% of his passes for 4,121 yards with 40 touchdowns and 3 interception, and has rushed for 735 yards on 125 carries with 15 touchdowns. He set the Pac 12 record for total touchdowns.

Running back Royce Freeman has 242 carries for 1,343 yards and 18 touchdowns, along with 16 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown. Byron Marshall has 51 carries for 383 yards and a touchdown, and 66 catches for 834 yards and 5 touchdowns. Thomas Tyner has 101 carries for 511 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 9 catches and a touchdown.

Receiver Devon Allen has 41 catches for 684 yards and 7 touchdowns. He is doubtful with a knee injury. Darren Carrington has 37 carries for 704 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is suspended for violating team rules. Dwayne Stanford has 39 catches for 578 yards and 6 touchdowns.  Keanon Lowe has 25 catches for 394 yards and 4 touchdowns. Charles Nelson has only 21 catches but 5 touchdowns. Tight end Pharaoh Brown has 25 catches for 420 yards and 6 touchdowns. He is out for the season with a leg injury. Receiver Bralon Addison is questionable with a knee injury.

Ohio State is 9-2-1 ATS against Pac 12 teams, 4-1 in non-conference games, 5-2 after a cover, 36-15 after gaining more than 450 total yards, 7-3 in neutral site games, and 33-16-2 against teams with winning records.

Oregon is 6-0 ATS after passing for more than 280 yards, 5-0 in neutral site games and on fieldturf, 4-0 in bowl games and after allowing more than 280 passing yards, 21-6 after scoring more than 40 points, 7-2 in non-conference games, 22-7 after a straight up win, 20-7 against teams with winning records, 19-7 after allowing more than 450 total yards, and after a straight up win of more than 20 points, 25-10 overall, 43-20-3 after rushing for more than 200 yards, and 37-18-2 after a cover.

This should be a high scoring game with two top five offenses. Both teams are red hot. Since losing to Arizona, Oregon hasn’t lost and has scored at least 42 points in every game. The last 8 games in the streak have all been by 24 points or more. Ohio State has been equally impressive especially with a third string quarterback. While Oregon has been viewed by many in recent years as a finesse team, this team is very physical. It is one thing to blow out Cal but Oregon dominated Florida State last week. I think Oregon wins their first national championship but it won’t be easy.

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