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Oregon vs. Ohio State: Key Storylines for College Football Championship 2015

Published by Bleacher Report on Sat, 10 Jan 2015

The initial College Football Playoff did its job.It matched two red-hot football teams in Oregon and Ohio State that will have superstars all over the field in the national championship game. If we were still stuck with the BCS, the Ducks and Buckeyes would have faced off in the Rose Bowl while Alabama and Florida State, the two teams Ohio State and Oregon just so happened to beat in the semifinals, would have played for the title.Now fans will be treated to Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota and the Ducks going up against Urban Meyers Ohio State squad. The winner will take home the championship in the inaugural College Football Playoff.Lets take a look at a couple of marquee storylines heading into the title clash.Oregon Wide ReceiversStunning news broke late Friday evening from the Oregon side of things.Aaron Fentress of Comcast Northwest reported that wide receiver Darren Carrington failed a NCAA drug test and will not play in the game. It is a crippling blow for the Ducks considering they already will be without wide receiver Devon Allen, who hurt his knee in the Rose Bowl.ESPN Stats & Info and Tyson Alger of The Oregonian noted just how important Carrington and Allen are to the Oregon attack:The loss of Carrington is an even bigger problem because he is fresh off two of the best performances of his career. He torched Florida State for 165 receiving yards and two touchdowns and tallied 126 receiving yards against Arizona in the Pac-12 title game.For as much attention as the stamina of the opposing defenses get when playing Oregons high-tempo attack, the Ducks need some depth of their own. After all, they are running without a huddle as well, even if they are the ones setting the tempo.Carrington and Allen were both in the top four on the team in receptions and the top three in receiving yards, and Allen led the team with seven touchdown catches. The wide receiver depth will be tested on the sports biggest stage against an Ohio State secondary that just dealt with Alabamas Amari Cooper.Oregon was second in the nation in scoring offense and often sets up its passing attack with the read-option and different running looks.Mariota (731 rushing yards), Royce Freeman (1,343 rushing yards) and Thomas Tyner (511 rushing yards) are all serious threats on the ground, and the absence of two of Oregons top receivers will make it easier for the Buckeyes to focus in on stopping the run.In a championship game that could come down to the final minutes, every small advantage helps. This could be a serious boost for Ohio State.Ohio State Avoiding TurnoversOn paper, the matchup between Ohio States dynamic offense and Oregons defense looks like a mismatch, at least statistically. The Buckeyes were fifth in the nation in scoring offense and 10th in rushing yards per game, while the Ducks were 51st against the run and an alarming 111th against the pass.However, there is one thing every Oregon opponent has to be aware ofturnovers.Oregon was tops in the nation in turnover margin at plus-20 and showed just how opportunistic its defense is in the Rose Bowl victory over Florida State when it forced five turnovers. Its not as if the Seminoles had trouble moving the ball, either, considering they racked up 528 total yards of offense. However, the turnovers ultimately proved to be Florida States undoing, and the Ducks offense made it pay dearly.Avoiding turnovers is even more important against Oregon because of how impressive the Ducks are on offense.The best way to stop Mariota is by keeping him on the sidelines, as Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott noted, via Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch: They have a very high-powered offense. Sometimes were going to have to grind it out and have long possessions to keep our defense off the field and give them some rest.Between Elliott and wide receivers Devin Smith, Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall and Evan Spencer, the Buckeyes should be able to consistently move the ball against Oregons defense.Whether they convert that yardage into points and ultimately a victory will come down to how well they protect the ball.Follow me on Twitter:Follow @ScottPolacek
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