Ohio State rushing vs. Oregon run defense

Tailback Ezekiel Elliott now has a signature run — the 85-yard game-breaker against Alabama — to go with his signature look: He tucks his jersey under the pads to show off his midriff. (He says it's to pay "homage" to Buckeyes greats Eddie George and Joey Galloway.) Elliott has been sensational in his past two games, gashing Wisconsin for 220 yards and Alabama for 230 — with 20 carries each time. Oregon is average against the run, allowing 4.2 yards per carry.

Edge: Ohio State.

Ohio State passing vs. Oregon pass defense

In his two games, Cardale Jones has done two things remarkably well: throw the deep ball and scramble on third down. He is completing only 40 percent of his intermediate passes but 57.1 percent of throws greater than 20 yards, with no interceptions. Devin Smith has emerged as a superior downfield target, catching 10 touchdown tosses of 20 or more yards. Oregon's pass defense rates 52nd nationally, but the Ducks are excellent at forcing turnovers (30 in 14 games).

Edge: Ohio State.

Special teams

The Buckeyes are solid, boasting dangerous return men in Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall. Punter Cameron Johnston (45.3-yard average) is exceptional, while kicker Sean Nuernberger (65 percent on field goals) is average. Oregon kickers are 16-for-19 on field goals but have missed four extra points. The Ducks' Charles Nelson returned two of 11 punts for touchdowns.

Edge: Even.

Oregon rushing vs. Ohio State run defense

The Ducks are known for flinging it all over the lot, but they still rush the ball 58.8 percent of the time and have run for 42 scores, seventh among FBS teams. Their diverse, read-option attack features 229-pound true freshman Royce Freeman and, of course, Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota (731 net yards, 15 touchdowns). The Buckeyes held Wisconsin star running back Melvin Gordon to 76 yards — his lowest output against an FBS team — on 26 carries.

Edge: Even.

Oregon passing vs. Ohio State pass defense

Mariota earned that Heisman by posting the nation's highest passer rating. He threw an interception against Florida State in the Rose Bowl but still has only three picks in 408 attempts. No. 2 receiver Darren Carrington is ineligible for the game after failing an NCAA-administered drug test, but 11 other Ducks caught touchdown passes this season. The Buckeyes limited Alabama to 237 passing yards and picked off Blake Sims three times, but the Ducks' passing game is far superior.

Edge: Oregon.


Urban Meyer is 5-0 as an underdog at Ohio State, including the 59-0 throttling of Wisconsin and the 42-35 comeback over Alabama. He already has won two national titles and has shown a propensity for giving Heisman Trophy winners fits (see: Troy Smith and Sam Bradford) in national title games. Mark Helfrich has proved a worthy successor to Chip Kelly. Entering the biggest game of his life, he is 24-3.

Edge: Ohio State.