ARLINGTON, Texas -- The first College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T was won by the No. 4 seed. Led by Ezekiel Elliott's 246 rushing yards and four scores, Ohio State thumped Oregon 42-20 in front of more than 85,000 fans at AT&T Stadium. Here's how a historic night in college football went down:
How the game was won: Nasty, brute power. Ohio State overcame four turnovers and pulled away by getting timely stops on defense and whatever it wanted on offense in the final two quarters. Cardale Jones was sensational again in his third career start, but the Buckeyes' punishing brand of rushing made all the difference once this game got close.
Game ball goes to: Elliott. What a relentless night of rushing. “Zeke” put the Buckeyes on his back to take over the game and pounded the Ducks for 148 second-half yards with a lethal combo of north-south power and speed when he found space. The sophomore surpassed 200 rushing yards in all three of his postseason games and was by far the most dominant player of the College Football Playoff.
Unsung hero: Ohio State’s offensive linemen won’t receive nearly enough credit. They didn’t just pave holes over and over again for Elliott. They wore Oregon out up front in the fourth quarter on a night when the Ducks knew loading the box was imperative. This line, deemed one of OSU’s greatest questions entering 2014, was as consistent as could be and won the day.
Stat of the game: Finishing 2-of-12 on third-down conversions played a big role in dooming the Ducks. A couple dropped passes were to blame early on, but the ineffectiveness on pressure downs did real damage. Oregon punted six times, and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota couldn’t find a way to fix that flaw.
What it means: Urban Meyer takes home his third national championship, and the Big Ten gets to thump its chest for eight months. Oh, and it means the College Football Playoff committee made a pretty good call Dec. 7 with that final playoff spot.
Best play: Elliott had longer rushes and tougher rushes, but the way he broke away and finished this one to put OSU ahead 28-20 on the final play of the third quarter was impressive.
What's next: Ohio State will be an early favorite to defend its title in 2015, regardless of how its embarrassment of riches at quarterback shakes out. This is a team loaded with impact underclassmen and poised to get even better. The Ducks must somehow replace the marvelous Mariota and a few key seniors but should be right back in the Pac-12 title race next season.