It's finally here: the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T.
Behind Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, Oregon attempts to win its first national championship. Ohio State is seeking its first title since 2002 in just its third season under coach Urban Meyer.
This game has been sliced and diced and debated for the past 11 days. Now it's prediction time from the Big Ten blog, so let's get started.
Adam Rittenberg: Oregon has been my national title pick all season. It feels like the Ducks' season. And they have the best player in Mariota. Still, I'm going with Ohio State, which feels like a wild-card team hitting its stride at the perfect time. As long as the Buckeyes avoid turnovers, they'll rack up big yards and big points against Oregon. It will be a shootout, as expected, but Ohio State prevails behind another huge performance from Ezekiel Elliott. ... Ohio State 45, Oregon 42
Brian Bennett: I have picked against Ohio State several times this season: at Michigan State, versus Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game (yeah, good call there) and versus Alabama. I've been wrong each time and have learned my lesson about going against the Buckeyes. However, I also don't want to be responsible for changing this team's karma by suddenly picking Ohio State to win. Plus, I've had Oregon as my national title choice all along. So while I believe Urban Meyer's team has a great chance to win this one -- especially if Cardale Jones continues to play well and the running game keeps chugging along -- I'm officially sticking with the Ducks in what should be a great game. ... Oregon 42, Ohio State 38.
Austin Ward: By now, Ohio State has made it quite clear that betting against it is a bad idea. And there might not be a coach in the country any better at firing up an underdog than Urban Meyer, who is undefeated with the Buckeyes when they aren't favored to win. Jones has added another dimension to an already potent offense, stretching the field to let wide receiver Devin Smith do what he does best and making life miserable for defensive backs, and that is also freeing up room for the dynamic Elliott. Putting up points won't be a problem for Ohio State, and with a vastly improved defense capable of creating a couple turnovers, it should be able to slow down the Ducks enough to give Meyer another upset victory -- and a national title. ... Ohio State 45, Oregon 35.
Mitch Sherman: Despite Oregon's resounding win over Florida State in the Rose Bowl, momentum belongs to the Buckeyes -- and not just because they beat up on Alabama. Ohio State has proven the skeptics wrong at every turn, and I'm tired of questioning Meyer's team. I picked against it in the Big Ten title game and in the College Football Playoff semifinal. Even the past few days seem to have swayed in favor of Ohio State as Oregon lost a playmaker in Darren Carrington and the Buckeyes likely gained one in Dontre Wilson. At this point, little doubt exists that Ohio State is a team of destiny. All that said, I still like the Ducks, who are simply more explosive and more prepared for this moment. ... Oregon 38, Ohio State 27.
Dan Murphy: Ohio State holds a slight edge in my mind and the difference-maker will be the Buckeyes’ wet-behind-the-ears starting quarterback Cardale Jones. Oregon’s 111th-ranked passing defense gave up 44 passes of at least 20 yards already this season. Big plays are often the difference in close games, and as crazy as it seems to pick against the country’s best player, Jones and the talented crew around him are more dangerous home run hitters. ... Ohio State 38, Oregon 35