Five Keys to a Buckeye Win Over Oregon
4. Get stops on first down.
First downs may actually be bigger than third downs in this game for the Ohio State defense. Among the 732 different foci for the Buckeyes in this game, the need to limit the Ducks on first down cannot be overstated. Holding Oregon to a yard or two or none on first down changes the Ducks' offensive motor by a tick or two, and that might be all Ohio State needs.
Putting Oregon in long down-and-distance situations has been talked about by every Buckeye defender who is asked for a defensive key in this game. It's not a cure-all, because they are just as likely to run the ball on second and long as they are to throw the ball, but they do slow things down to make sure that they execute in "and-long" situations.
For both teams, punts will be like silver and three-and-outs will be gold. The defense that ends up with more of these treasures than the other will likely walk out of the game as the national champions, and it will all start on first down.