Tonight bring us the final chapter of the college football season, one that brought us the first playoff in FBS history. The first weekend managed to eliminate arguably the two biggest villains of the four teams selected. Florida State and controversial quarterback Jameis Winston lost to Oregon in blowout fashion, while football Goliath Alabama fell to an Ohio State team that surprised many fans by being included in the first place.
Now that the stage is set, who do you root for? Many probably have their minds made up already, but since few Jayhawks have ties to either remaining program, I'll lay out the case for each side.
Why you should be rooting for Oregon
The Ducks have played a major role in the recent evolutions of offense in the modern game. Though Mike Bellotti first got Oregon's high-powered spread option attack going in the mid-2000s, it exploded with Chip Kelly's up-tempo tweaks. Now, Oregon has ranked in the top 5 nationally in both total offense and scoring offense for five consecutive season. With an attack based on spacing and the element of surprise, many would argue that the Ducks are the most fun to watch of any team in the nation.
Oregon also has a bit of an underdog element working for them. Though they've cemented themselves as a national football power in recent years, they haven't been able to get over the final hurdle, claiming no national titles in the history of the program. They came closest following the 2010 season, when they lost to Cam Newton and Auburn in the National Title game.
On the other side, Ohio State is one of the bullies on the block we're all tired of. Ohio State is one of the winningest all-time programs, ranking 6th with 862 wins (Oregon ranks 59th). Ohio State already has seven national title trophies in their case, the most recent one coming in 2002. They play in the constantly overrated and underachieving Big Ten, and their suspect inclusion in the college football playoff kept the Big 12's hopefuls out. Plus, they insist on calling themselves The Ohio State University.
Why you should be rooting for Ohio State
Sure, we may be a little tired of Ohio State at this point, but there's something to be said for the consistency they've maintained over the years. As Big Ten programs like Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin have seen ebbs and flows, Ohio State has posted double digit wins in 11 of the last 13 seasons. They've been the main argument against the national discussion that seems to suggest that cold weather football programs are on their way out, and in that way they represent teams like Kansas and their northern Big 12 brethren.
Their coach, Urban Meyer, has his share of detractors. His strange "leave of absence" situation at Florida was never fully explained, and a number of his recruits there landed in trouble with the legal system, earning him somewhat of a "win-at-all-costs" reputation. That said, is anyone trying to say that Oregon has run a squeaky clean program? The bottom line is that Urban Meyer is one hell of a football coach. He won at Bowling Green and took Utah to Sugar Bowl win over Alabama prior to winning a national title with the Gators, and has been quite the offensive innovator himself along the way. The guy won a title using the dreaded two-quarterback system at Florida, and now has Ohio State in the championship game despite losing Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller prior to the season, and currently being down to his third string quarterback. There's no way around it: Urban Meyer deserves much respect for what he's been able to do at every stop in his career.
Across the field, your other option is Oregon. Oregon is a successful program right now because Nike. They didn't build their program from scratch, mining the high school football landscape for undiscovered talent. They didn't do more with less to get themselves to a point where they could land blue chip players. Phil Knight threw boatloads of money at the football program in the 90s and the program turned around almost overnight. Oregon represents everything that old-school fans hate about modern college athletics. They sink obscene amounts of money into facilities, wear a different neon-colored uniform for every game, and have a reputation for taking on talented recruits that other schools shy away from for off-the-field issues. They're the anti-Bill Snyder (or, perhaps more accurately, the anti-what-Bill-Snyder-tells-us-he's-all-about). Rooting for Oregon is rooting for style over substance. A lottery winner vs. someone who built up their empire from scratch.
Start Time: 7:30 PM Central
Betting Line: Oregon (-6)
So let's get the conversation started early. Who are you rooting for? Why? What do you think of the playoff so far? Are you any more or less interested in the title game because of the playoff? The culmination of the college football season is upon us