The myth of superiority surrounding the up-tempo offense was shattered Monday night in front of a national audience. It was a significant evening in many ways. It was the culmination of college football’s first playoff. It also featured a championship game between two non-SEC teams for the first time in a decade.
Most importantly, it showed us that “trendy” does not equate to invincible.
After the Ducks’ 59-20 thrashing of Florida State (a team that probably should not have been in this year’s playoff), the nation expected the high-powered offense led by Marcus Mariota to route Ohio State in the championship.
This, obviously, was not meant to be. In some ways, this game was over before it even began. Two simple things led Ohio State to this 42-20 triumph: toughness and desire.
Urban Meyer’s record as a Buckeye stands 38-3. In a sense, the Buckeyes were preparing for this game since the day he arrived at Columbus.
This team was driven and resourceful. It overcame turmoil and injuries to star players throughout the season, finishing the year with the third-string QB as the starter.
The Buckeyes did it the old-fashioned way, with a tough defense and a nearly unstoppable running game, the main ball carrier being sophomore Ezekiel Elliott.
This is the sort of retro football show many didn’t see coming. As a younger college football fan, it’s easy to get caught up in the flash and explosiveness of a team like Oregon. Even the bright, distracting uniforms become part of the allure.
Simply put, Oregon is hard to ignore. Like today’s society is with the newest trends and the hottest new technology, the Ducks were to college football fans. They were the ever quickening future.
Everyone was on board. At the end of the day, though, it’s teams like Ohio State, the traditionalist, that always seem to get the job done.
Oregon’s rapid style of offense, after years of implementation in the Pac-12, through two esteemed head coaches and one Heisman Trophy winner, has yet to yield a national title.
Moreso now than ever, I endorse the old adage that defense wins championships. After all, that has been a feature of the SEC, while winning seven straight national titles.
This year’s season ends the reign of the SEC as college football’s most dominant conference, but Urban Meyer’s third national title was hardly a repudiation of the SEC.
In this year’s bowl season we saw especially outstanding performances from Oregon, TCU, Michigan State, Georgia Tech, and this year’s champion Ohio State.
After everything, I believe that going into next year, the balance of power between conferences is more even than it has been in almost a decade. The Big Ten wins the championship, but the Pac 12 has a better bowl record, 6-3, while the SEC retains most of the respect it acquired over the previous seven years.
Meyer, after all, made his name in the SEC and won two of his national titles there. All he did was transfer the SEC System to the north, where it works just as well.
With many fireworks and several surprises to end this football season, and a fresh taste of conference parity, I can enjoy imagining what this next year will bring.