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The inaugural college football playoff has concluded and it was a huge success. After over 2 years of anticipation, college football fanatics enjoyed three exciting football games between four qualified teams.
After the conference championships, there was a major debate about who should get selected to compete in the playoff. Alabama and Oregon locked up their spots in the tournament by defeating strong teams all year and winning their conferences. Florida State, the reigning champions, were the only undefeated team in college football; however, many critics complained about their strength of schedule in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Because of the undefeated record, the Seminoles got a bid to defend their championship. However, there was controversy regarding the last spot. There were three teams with legitimate resumes entering the postseason: Baylor University, Texas Christian University (TCU) and Ohio State. Baylor and TCU had a very similar resume on paper except for the fact that Baylor beat TCU in a 61-58 shootout in early October. TCU, however, boasted the 2nd strongest offense in points for and 4 quality wins over ranked opponents. Ohio State had an amazing year in the Big 10 Conference, despite the fact that their starting quarterback, Braxton Miller, missed the entire season with an injured right throwing shoulder. In the absence of Miller, redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett had a tremendous year including 34 touchdowns and an 11-1 record. During the rivalry game against Michigan, J.T. Barrett broke his ankle. The Buckeyes had to turn to unknown third-string quarterback Cardale Jones in the Big 10 Championship game against a potent Wisconsin defense. Cardale put up the game of his life as the Buckeyes took home a 59-0 victory. Critics labeled this game as a fluke. It was impossible for a third-string quarterback to dominate on this scale. Despite the critics, Ohio State was voted in by the Selection Committee.
In the first game of the tournament, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, two of the top quarterback prospects for this year’s NFL Draft, faced off in a highly anticipated matchup among two dominant offenses. This game was played in what is traditionally known as the Rose Bowl on January 1st. The game was tight for much of the first half. Both offenses went on touchdown drives in the first half, but the key difference was Florida State’s red zone inefficiency. They had to settle for field goals twice in the first half. The Ducks went into the break with a 18-13 lead. The second half is where the Ducks ignited their explosive offense and scored 41 points. The 59-20 romp can be credited to the Ducks success in the running game. Mariota and his talented running backs ran for over 300 yards and 5 touchdowns.
In the second game college football dynasty Alabama took on the underdog Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl Game in Louisiana. Alabama had a fantastic year in the SEC, known as the toughest conference in the NCAA. Alabama has won three national championships since 2009. Ohio State dominated the early 2000’s, but in recent years has struggled to continue its success while facing major sanctions from the NCAA for law violations. However, former Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer has turned the team around by going 38-3 over the past three years. After a great season, Ohio State was still considered the underdog in this contest because of the unproven name starting at quarterback. In the early goings of this matchup, it was all Alabama as they went up 21-6 in the first half. However, the Bucks continued to fight. Cardale Jones continued to make big throws on third down to receivers Devin Smith and Michael Thomas. The big difference in this game was the poor performance of Alabama quarterback Blake Sims. Sims tossed three interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 25.8%. Ohio State moved on to the championship after grinding out a 42-35 victory. Ohio State set it’s sights on Oregon.
11 days later, The Ducks and Bucks would compete for the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. This game had a Super Bowl-esque feeling. Many celebrities trekked to Arlington to catch this historic game including NBA icon LeBron James and Jimmy Kimmel. Oregon were the favorites going into this game, however most fans knew it was going to be a really close, hard fought game. Oregon started this game with a quick touchdown drive; however, Ohio State fought back once again with three consecutive touchdown drives. Ohio State led Oregon into the half with a surprising 21-10 lead. Oregon came out of the half with a HUGE momentum changing touchdown drive by Oregon. Soon after the Oregon score, Cardale Jones fumbled the ball leading to an Oregon field goal. The game was up in the air and Oregon had all of the momentum. However, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott put the team on his back by amassing over 246 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns. Elliott was simply too huge for Oregon to overcome. The Buckeyes took home the inaugural championship in the playoff era. Ohio State shut down all of the critics who doubted them this year. The Buckeyes, however, face a huge dilemma heading into next year. Who should be the starting quarterback next year: Miller, Barrett or Jones. Miller has been tremendous in reviving the program in their transition out of the sanction era. Barrett led them through the entire season to the championship. Jones was simply magnificent when it mattered most down the stretch. All three should be able to compete for the job next offseason, but the two backups will be disappointed and could possibly transfer.
The College Football Playoffs were a huge success and we look forward to the development of the event in the near future.