Ohio State at Oregon
When: 8:30 PM ET, Monday, January 12, 2015
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Oregon –6.5
PREDICTION: Oregon 40, Ohio State 34
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Running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed for a Sugar Bowl-record 230 yards – including a dynamic 85-yard scoring run – and his 1,632 rushing yards rank fourth in Buckeyes’ history behind Eddie George (1,927 in 1995), Keith Byars (1,764, 1984) and Archie Griffin (1,695, 1974). Big play receiver Devin Smith caught his 30th career touchdown pass in the Sugar Bowl – a 47-yard catch – and is averaging 27.7 yards per reception this season while scoring 12 TDs on 32 catches. The defensive standouts include weak-side linebacker Joshua Perry (team-leading 118 tackles), safety Vonn Bell (86 tackles, team-best six interceptions), defensive end Joey Bosa (team-high 13.5 sacks), strong-side linebacker Darron Lee (7.5 sacks) and cornerback Doran Grant (five interceptions).
Mariota guided the attack to Rose Bowl records for points and yardage (639) while accounting for three scores (two passing, one rushing), passing for 338 and rushing for 62 more. The Ducks have two fine backfield options in Royce Freeman (1,343 yards, 18 touchdowns) and Thomas Tyner (511 yards, five touchdowns) while receiver Darren Carrington (37 catches, 704 yards) is emerging as a star after having seven receptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns in the Rose Bowl. Defensively, free safety Erick Dargan leads the team with 90 tackles and seven interceptions and had one pick and one forced fumble in the Rose Bowl while outside linebacker Tony Washington (six sacks) was part of one of the memorable plays in the Rose Bowl when Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston lost a fumble and Washington returned it 58 yards for a touchdown.