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Ohio State defense preparing for ‘fatigue factor’ against Mariota, Oregon

crazy tackle

Senior cornerback Doran Grant (12) and redshirt-freshman linebacker Darron Lee (43) combine for a tackle on a member of the Alabama offense during the 2015 Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 in New Orleans. OSU won, 42-35. Credit: Chelsea Spears / Multimedia editor

Not only is the Ohio State football team getting set for its third straight post-season game, it is also preparing to take on its third-straight Heisman finalist.

Only this time, it’s the Heisman winner.

In an almost symbolic twist, the Buckeyes will face the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, Oregon redshirt-junior quarterback Marcus Mariota, in the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship game after defeating the second and third place finishers in the Big Ten Championship game and the 2015 Allstate Sugar Bowl respectively.

First came the eventual Heisman runner-up in Wisconsin redshirt-junior running back Melvin Gordon, who entered the Big Ten title game averaging 188.3 rushing yards per game and had 26 touchdowns to go along with it.

The Buckeyes held Gordon to just 76 yards rushing, in turn shutting out the favored Badgers 59-0 in a game in which OSU started third-string quarterback redshirt-sophomore Cardale Jones.

About three weeks later, OSU held the third-place finisher, Alabama’s junior wide receiver Amari Cooper, to just 71 yards receiving and his second-lowest yards-per-catch performance of the season.

With the Buckeyes looking to go 3-0 against the three Heisman finalists, OSU senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett said Tuesday that he, along with the entire defense, takes pride in shutting down such high profile players.

“They are Heisman contenders because they are either running or catching over everybody,” Bennett said. “So if you are able to shut them down, that means you had a really good defensive effort.”

Now, with the national title game less than a week away, OSU coach Urban Meyer said there is no denying that shutting down Mariota will be the emphasis on defense.

“Of course you say that’s the target and you try to simulate that at practice. You can’t simulate him,” Meyer said. “When Cooper was on the field or off the field, we knew last week, Gordon, we had stuff all over the kids’ lockers about stop this guy. It’s very clear, and if it’s not now, it’s certainly getting clearer that he’s (Mariota) the guy.”

Mariota not only won the Heisman Trophy in 2014, but he also ranks fifth in the country in total offense, averaging 346.6 yards per game by himself. As a whole, the Ducks’ offense ranks third in the country.

The staple of the Duck offense is a fast-paced attack that attempts to wear out opposing defenses, something OSU redshirt-freshman linebacker Darron Lee said he and the Buckeye defense must prepare to face.

“What we have seen on film with them is that they have eliminated teams by the fatigue factor. Some teams will be up on them, say mid-, late-third quarter and then they (Oregon) will just blow the door open,” Lee said Tuesday. “If we eliminate that (the fatigue factor) and get lined up, we will be fine.”

OSU sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa said Tuesday that adjusting from the physicality of the Alabama offense to the speed of Oregon’s offense could prove challenging.

“Alabama and Oregon are completely different animals. Alabama is, line up and come at you (with) big, physical guys. Oregon is, run across the field, spread you out and tire you out,” Bosa said. “Both are tough, both are definitely tiring and we are just preparing as well as we can with the tempo and the speed of practice has been kicked up a lot this week. It is just a mental battle having to prepare going into our 15th game of the season. It’s a grind.”

Bosa, who has been just a half sack away from tying the OSU school record since defeating Michigan in November said that even though Mariota is the Heisman Trophy winner, the Buckeye defense is not afraid of another challenge.

“(He is) the best player in college football. Obviously the Heisman winner and he is very talented in the run game, he just makes good decisions,” Bosa said. “We aren’t scared of anybody really, we just have to pay attention to where he is at all times and what he is doing at all times.”

Bosa added that even though chasing Mariota and the Duck offense around the field will likely be exhausting, that won’t affect him once the game has started.

“When there is such big stakes up for grabs, when you got the national championship, you don’t really think about how tired you are or how sore you are,” Bosa said. “You are just worried about getting that title.”

The Buckeyes and Ducks are set to play for the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night at 8:30 p.m. in Arlington, Texas.


  1. It’s not just Mariota you gotta worry about. They’ve been tearing everyone up. OSU does not have the speed or strength to keep up.

  2. Eric,

    This year you are WRONG!!!

    Ohio State ALWAYS has the strength and this year they also have the speed.

    I expect the BUCKEYES to win this one!!!


  3. eric your a idiot.thinking ohio st doesn’t have the speed try telling Alabama that.

  4. btw eric u sound like a true Oregon fan..if u think the buckeyes don’t have speed and power to out physical Oregon ur crazy

  5. Yeah right! I love that Ohio State thinks they are good because they won the Big 10 and beat Bama. Winning Big 10 is nothing, and Bama was weak this year. They lost to Ole Miss, who got destroyed by TCU. The SEC just did not have elite teams this year. And you barely beat one of them. This will be like the FSU game again.

  6. I only HOPE that the Oregon team has the same impression and confidence as Eric does. That type of arrogance and over-confidence almost always spells doom. Keep on talking Eric — PLEASE!

  7. @Terry-hahahahahahahahahahahahaha MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY!!! The playoff committee is sitting somewhere hoping Vegas and the whole world keeps thinking these “OSU will get creamed” thoughts so 30+ million people can watch the buckeyes win the title and even if they don’t win the title what Urban Meyer has done through injuries and suicide deserves COACH OF THE YEAR accolades!!!!!!

    Oh this will be a GREAT game!!!!…If You Don’t Believe Me Just Watch (Bruno Mars)! hahaha I bet the Ducks aren’t taking this team as a joke that keeps on laughing while steam rolling teams!!!

    But then they said they same thing when Terrelle Pryor sent the Ducks home CRYING!

  8. Defense: OSU have not faced a dual threat QB like Mariota and the up tempo defense, so defense will need to play sound gap & position defense and put pressure on Mariota.

    Offense: Have re-watched OSU Bama game. QB Jones’ ability to run was under estimated. QB Jones with his size and strength was able to break tackles up the middle against Bama. Ducks’ defense is not as big as Bama’s.

    Conclusion: OSU needs to score and also control the ball to limit number of Ducks’ possessions. QB Jones’ running abilities could be one of keys to beating Ducks.

  9. Im a Duck fan and have respect for OSU, I look forward to a great game and would like to let everyone know that the state of Oregon so far has shown your team respect and does not doubt their ability. Both teams have their flaws and their glaring strengths. This will be fun to watch and the victory goes to whoever plays better on Monday.
    Go Ducks!

  10. OSU fans saying all the same things FSU fans said. This is fun to read. Still gonna be a beating. I don’t care how fast your QB is, won’t do you any good when you get beat up on the line. But don’t stop believing!!! It’s cute.

  11. I remember 2002 miami match up. Ohio state didn’t have enough speed. The first thing I heard one of the commentators say was “did you see how fast that defensive end got there”.

    Last time we played Oregon they had the same tempo offense. We ran them in the ground thus keeping their offensive off the field. Blount was their tailback and he was fresh becuase he had gotten supsended(season long) for knocking out the Boise state lineman after a loss.

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