Oregon has been through one heck of a season—a roller coaster, to put it mildly.
First they get punished by Boise State 19-8, along with losing LeGarrette Blount for the season...or so we thought.
The Ducks are Rose Bowl-bound after a loss to Stanford, a nail-biting win (and an instant classic) over Arizona in double OT, and then finally the Civil War victory over rival Oregon State.
That means they face off against Ohio State.
The Buckeyes are an interesting team. They're in top 15 against the pass and the fourth best rush defense. They only allow an average of 12 points a game.
However, they only score 29 points a game and average 365 yards a game.
The Ducks have the seventh highest-scoring offense and are behind only two BCS teams (Texas and Cincinnati) with an average of 38 points a game. Oregon also averages 424 yards a game.
What about defense?
Oregon allows 23 points a game, along with being the 34th best pass defense and the 36th best run defense. Ouch.
So stat-wise, it looks like a superb offense against a stud defense.
But let's compare scheduling. Oregon has the 11th hardest schedule. Ohio State has the 50th. Big difference.
Oregon has really been on track and dominating since the Boise State game. Other than the Stanford game, they've been great on defense, shutting down teams like Utah, Cal, and USC among others.
Oregon lost to Stanford in conference play. That's the Stanford squad with leading Heisman Trophy candidate Toby Gerhart. The Cardinal also upset USC and are ranked No. 19.
Ohio State lost to USC and Purdue. Both are teams the Ducks played and beat. They killed USC and edged out Purdue in week two.
LaMichael James won the Pac-10 freshman of the year award and was runner-up for the NCAA freshman of the year, just behind Dion Lewis.
That's not to mention CBS named Chip Kelly coach of the year—and rightfully so. They've had one of the biggest turnaround seasons I've ever seen.
He's proved time and time again they can handle pressure and can make great comebacks. Kelly has led the Ducks in rally games to beat UCLA, Arizona, and Oregon State.
Jeremiah Masoli and company will not be held to under 12 points—period. In fact, I bet they can score 30 on the Buckeyes. The option will confuse Ohio State all day and allow some big yardage for James.
It's the same situation as Oregon State. They were a top 15 rush defense until the Civil War, when the Ducks had close to 200 yards rushing thanks to James, Blount, and Kenjon Barner.
That's another thing—Oregon has more weapons than Ohio State. With a dual-threat superstar in Masoli, three fast, powerful running backs, and two solid receivers, not to mention the versatile Ed Dickson at tight end...the Ducks will prove too much for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State has weapons of its own, though, don't forget. Terrelle Pryor is also a dual threat, getting some rushing yards when he needs it and proving very reliable through the air for Ohio State.
Predictions from B/R, as well as other places, usually always have Oregon held to 21-20 points—sometimes less than that. But remember Purdue? They scored 27 on Ohio State. We beat them by two points earlier in the season (38-36), just after the Boise State game.
That game shows that Oregon's defense is weaker, but offensively and overall, the Ducks are better.
It won't be a shootout, no way. But it won't be decided on defense. I think Ohio State's great defense outmatches Oregon's, but Oregon's offense could kill Ohio State's offense.
Overall, the Ducks are too powerful for Ohio State. Ohio State will be a tough challenge, but I think Kelly will keep everyone tuned in until the final whistle with a comeback victory.
Oregon 34, Ohio State 27
Be sure to check out Tim Bielik's article on how Ohio State will win the Rose Bowl!