I can’t say how many times I have seen it happen in football. Ten, twenty? A high powered offense rolls over teams in the regular season while getting love from all the “experts” and casual fans. Then they get to a title game and are made to look foolish. It just happened again this past Monday night when the Ducks of Oregon fell to the underdog Buckeyes of Ohio State.
Ohio State rolled past Oregon to the tune of 42-20. I have no idea how a team on a roll like the Ducks were can get beat by 22 points when the opponent turned the ball over four times. Teams that give away the ball that much in a game hardly ever win. Oregon had just one turnover, but somehow managed to lose by more than three touchdowns. Simply amazing.
The bottom line is that momentum can swing in an instant. Oregon might beat Ohio State 7 times out of 10 if they played over and over. But that is just useless predicting on paper. The fact is Oregon couldn’t beat the Buckeyes when it mattered. They got one shot and they didn’t execute for whatever reason. It is easy to fault the team that is favored and loses, but to put it simply…..the opponent has players and coaches too. It’s not like Urban Myer let his team just hang out by the pool all week before the game. They practiced just like Oregon and were more ready for the game than the Ducks.
The Buckeyes won this game by keeping the ball out of the hands of the Ducks’ offense. They kept the ball for over 37 minutes to Oregon’s 22 plus minutes. Just how did they manage to hold the ball so long? It was an ancient method called running the football. A method that many fans have forgotten, what with all the fancy passing and hurry up techniques of Oregon. The Buckeyes rolled up nearly 300 yards on the ground. They didn’t do it in large chunks either, averaging 4.9 yards per carry which is better for clock eating.
Oregon had big trouble on third down also. They simply couldn’t convert, going 2-12, while Ohio State converted over half of their third downs.
I am no Urban Myer fan, but I will give the man his due. He took a team that lost both the starting QB and the backup, to a National Title. I don’t think there are more than a couple other coaches who could have won the big game with a third stringer at quarterback.
Oregon fans are not alone in their misery after the upset. They can join a list of prolific offenses, both college and pro, who have failed to win the championship game after wowing the football world all season. Here are a few examples. The Denver Broncos just last year lit up the record books only to get destroyed in the Super Bowl by Seattle. The Buffalo Bills were an offensive juggernaut in their heyday, only to lose four Super Bowls in a row, three embarrassingly so. Elway’s Broncos lost three Super Bowls even though they had a high powered offense. Miami’s 2002 team was full of offensive stars only to lose to Ohio State in the championship contest. Oregon lost the 2010 National Title to Auburn as they managed just 19 points. The Minnesota Vikings of 1997 shredded records with a young Randy Moss and Chris Carter in his prime, only to lose to the mundane rushing offense of the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Title game. I don’t think I need to continue.
I’d say that this year’s new playoff system was a success. Fans got to have an extra day of a championship feel as the semi finals played out. Look for an expansion of the playoffs in the coming years. I see no reason to limit the playoffs to just four teams. They don’t need to add an overload of undeserving teams, but I see eight being a good number eventually. Just make sure you don’t put your life savings or even a few dollars on an elite offense in the title game. You will be let down every single time. Just ask Duck fans, who are likely still hung over today from the misery of losing.