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Five Keys to a Buckeye Win Over Oregon
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — It all comes down to this. One game for every last marble still out there.

The Buckeyes opened as 7.5-point underdogs against Oregon, but in some places the line is now down to -5. The word is — just like the Alabama game — that the smart money is being bet on Ohio State.

For those bettors to go home as happy men and women (and the occasional juvenile who gets a hold of his or her parent's credit card information), several things will need to happen for the Buckeyes. The good news for them, however, is that all of them are entirely possible.

This will be the best offense that the Buckeyes have faced, as well as one of the most disruptive defenses. As they have done in their last two games, Ohio State will need to bring their very best effort to come away with a victory.

That victory will happen if they hit on more than a few of these five keys.

1. Tackle the first time.
The Buckeyes didn't miss many tackles against Alabama, and when they did miss tackles it didn't cost them too much. Against Oregon, however, it could cost them absolutely everything.

Oregon's offense stresses a defense from sideline to sideline, and a missed tackle on any given play can end up going from endzone to endzone. The Ducks are going to put the Buckeyes in one-on-one situations in both the passing and running game, and many times the safety help behind that defender will be occupied with a Duck of their own. That means if somebody misses a tackle, there may not be anybody behind them to help out.

In order to combat that, however, everybody that can be chasing the ball will be chasing the ball. The Buckeyes have done a solid job of maintaining leverage on defense, and if they do that again on Monday, they'll be forcing the ball back inside to a defense that is heading right for it.

This has been a pretty good tackling team all season long, but they will need to be at their absolute best against an offensive attack that features skill and speed like NFL games feature commercials.

The need to tackle may not be any more important than it is when it comes to quarterback Marcus Mariota. Any time the Buckeye defense can get their hands on him, they have to bring him down. Not only will this keep his yardage limited, but it will also allow them to hit him. Remember, body shots will take their toll in championship bouts.

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