The Buckeyes finished off the Ducks with a bruising running game, led by Ezekiel Elliott, who ran 36 times for 246 yards and four touchdowns, including two short fourth-quarter scores that put the game out of reach.
The victory completed a remarkable turnaround for the Buckeyes, who were reeling after former coach Jim Tressel resigned in 2011 after failing to report knowledge of his players receiving illegal benefits, including trading team memorabilia and equipment for tattoos.
The NCAA hit Ohio State with a one-year bowl ban, numerous scholarship losses and vacated victories from the 2010 season.
After interim head coach Luke Fickell led the team to 6-7 record in 2011, former Florida coach Urban Meyer took over and led Ohio State to a 12-0 mark in his first season (Ohio State was ineligible for postseason play) and a 12-2 mark last season.
Meyer used his exceptional skill and interesting motivational tactics to help slow down Oregon’s offense, which still racked up 465 yards in the game. Meyer wanted to make the Ducks take more than 16 seconds to snap the ball.
“[Strength coach] Mickey Marotti and I, it’s the thing that we do best,” Meyer told SI’s Pete Thamel. “We felt we could eliminate the No. 16 demon. Whenever you’re dealing with 18- to 21-year-olds, you’ve got to give them something different than, ‘Hey, play hard.’”
Now, all Meyer has to do is figure out what to do with his three talented quarterbacks.
For more on Ohio State's victory, check out Andy Staples' story and others in this week's Sports Illustrated. (subscribe here)
Also in this issue: a feature on Seattle Seahawks All-Pro Safety Earl Thomas and Super Bowl XLIX predictions.
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