OSU-Oregon position breakdown

Published 12:59 am Monday, January 12, 2015

By Jim Naveau




Cardale Jones has seemed oblivious to pressure in his first two starts, throwing for 500 yards and four touchdowns, with only one interception in wins over Wisconsin and Alabama.

Oregon’s Heisman Trophy winner, Marcus Mariota, has been almost flawless. He has thrown for 4,121 yards and 40 touchdowns, with only three interceptions. He also has rushed for 731 yards and 15 TDs.

Advantage: Oregon.


Ezekiel Elliott became the first Ohio State running back to rush for more than 200 yards in back-to-back games when he went for 230 yards against Alabama. Only Eddie George (3 times in 1995 and 2 times in 1994), Chris Wells (twice in 2007) and Archie Griffin (twice in his career) have had more than one 200-yard game.

Oregon freshman Royce Freeman (1,343 yards, 18 TDs) gave the Ducks a 1,000-yard rusher for the eighth year in a row.

Advantage: Ohio State


For whatever it’s worth, Ohio State is 22-0 when Devin Smith catches a touchdown pass. The senior wide receiver, whose 30 touchdown catches trails on David Boston on the OSU career list, has been at his best in the last two games, grabbing four TD passes, the shortest of them 39 yards.

Oregon’s receivers group has taken some serious hits. Devon Allen (41 catches) and starting tight end Pharoh Brown will not play because of injuries. Darren Carrington, who had become the go-to guy in a 51-13 win over Arizona in the Pac-12 title game and a 59-20 Rose Bowl win over Florida State, was suspended for failing a drug test. He had 14 catches in the last two games.

Advantage: Ohio State


If anyone still needed convincing that OSU’s offensive line has come a long way from the start of the season, 537 yards total offense, including 281 yards rushing, against Alabama should have convinced them.

Oregon lost its best offensive lineman, Tyler Johnstone, for the season when he suffered a torn ACL in preseason practice. Even without him, the Ducks rank second nationally in scoring (47.2) and third in total offense (552.9). Ohio State is fifth in scoring (45.0) and ninth in total offense (509.7). Center Hroniss Grassu and left tackle Jake Fisher were first-team All-Pac 12.

Advantage: Oregon


Joey Bosa (13.5 sacks), Michael Bennett (7.5 sacks) and Adolphus Washington are the big names on Ohio State’s front four, but Steve Miller’s interception for a touchdown was one of the biggest plays in the win over Alabama.

For Oregon, DeForest Buckner leads the way with 13 tackles for losses.

Advantage: Ohio State


Joshua Perry’s strength and confidence have grown tremendously in the last three seasons. Darron Lee has burst onto the scene spectacularly as a redshirt freshman. His 7.5 sacks are the most by an OSU linebacker since A.J. Hawk.

Oregon’s Tony Washington has a team-high 6.5 sacks in Oregon’s 3-4 defense.

Advantage: Ohio State


Somewhere in the course of the season, Ohio State’s defensive backfield turned the corner and stopped giving up big plays in bunches. It will be tested by an Oregon team that has had 41 touchdown drives of two minutes or less and 66 plays of 25 yards or more.

Oregon will be without its best cornerback, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who is out with a knee injury. Safety Erick Dargan has seven interceptions.

Advantage: Ohio State


Ohio State freshman kicker Sean Neurenbeger (13 of 20) has been accurate inside the 40-yard line but is 5 of 10 outside the 40. Punter Cameron Johnston has had only nine of his kicks returned.

Oregon kicker Aidan Schneider (9 of 10), his long snapper and holder are all freshmen. Punter Ian Wheeler has had only eight kicks returned.

Advantage: Oregon