Five Keys to a Buckeye Win Over Oregon
5. Win the field position battle.
As the Ancients have said for a long time now, if you are facing a dynamic and explosive offense, at least make that offense drive the length of the field and earn their points.
In the Sugar Bowl, the Buckeyes were pinned back so often that it's almost a miracle that they won the game. I don't think Ohio State's field position in Monday's game is as important as Oregon's, because the Buckeyes have proven themselves against better defenses. What they can't allow, however, is for the Ducks to only have to drive 60 yards for touchdowns, because for them 60 yards is like 35 yards, using the Oregon-to-Normals conversion scale.
If the Buckeyes can get the same kind of kick coverage that they had against Alabama, that would be a very good start. Keeping them locked inside the 15-yard line is a definite key, and even though they can move the ball quickly and easily, they're not always going to be perfect.
And while I don't think Ohio State's starting position is as important, the fact that Oregon has allowed nearly seven kickoff returns per game means that freshman running back Curtis Samuel is going to have some opportunities to make plays in the return game. After the game he had against Alabama, he should be looking forward to this opportunity.
I would talk about the punting, but I'm not sure how much there is going to be. Both teams punt three times per game on average, and the Buckeyes have the advantage in terms of punters. Neither team allows returns, however. But the fact that they have the punter with the bigger leg is a definite plus. Oregon punter Ian Wheeler has a long of just 53 yards. Also, of his 41 punts, only 10 have been inside the 20-yard line. Cameron Johnston, meanwhile, has put 24 of his 45 punts inside the 20-yard line for the Buckeyes.
If the teams are punting on Monday, that favors the Buckeyes in more ways than one.