The last time that Ohio State played Oregon, the Buckeyes scored a 42-20 win to capture the first national championship of the College Football Playoff era. Now, the Ducks will head to Columbus as two-touchdown underdogs in an effort to avenge that loss on Saturday.
Both teams are coming off of opening weekend wins that were less dominant than their fanbases had hoped for.
Both teams overcome shaky moments to post wins
No. 3 Ohio State (1-0) trailed at halftime in Minnesota, but the Buckeyes’ offense exploded in the second half, pulling away for a 45-31 win. Meanwhile, No. 12 Oregon (1-0) trailed as late as the fourth quarter against Fresno State. Only a 30-yard touchdown run by quarterback Anthony Brown with under three minutes remaining gave the Ducks a late lead, with Oregon holding on to win 31-24.
FanDuel Sportsbook rates Ohio State as the 14.5-point favorite in Saturday’s matchup. The Buckeyes only have one home loss in the past five seasons and came into the year as a favorite to go to the College Football Playoff. That means they may need to win each and every week – something head coach Ryan Day wants his team to stay focused on — rather than thinking ahead to a potential title.
“That’s been our mantra here at Ohio State for a long time is to stay in the moment, not get too worried about what happened yesterday, not get too far out in front of you in terms of worrying about playing in championship games,” Day told reporters. “If we can just stay on that focus, we’re going to have a chance to play in some championship games.”
Oregon also has some hope of a playoff run this year. While they have plenty of teams to pass to reach a top-four position, a win on the road at Ohio State would immediately leapfrog them over most of the competition and into the CFP conversation. Oregon hasn’t appeared in the playoffs since that runner-up finish in the 2014-15 season.
Oregon preparing for loud Ohio State crowd
Beyond a perceived talent differential, the Ducks will also have to contend with playing at Ohio Stadium, affectionately known as the Shoe. More than 100,000 fans will likely pack the stadium, creating an atmosphere that many Oregon players have never experienced.
“You make sure that everything you’re doing in practice prepares you for a situation where verbal communication is really probably not an option,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal told OregonLive.com. “Home field advantages are real in college football and in the NFL, especially if you don’t prepare for them.”
On the other side of the ball, Day says he wants the crowd to lead the Buckeyes to a win in this critical matchup.
“We need Buckeye Nation in this game,” Day said, via The Columbus Dispatch. “We need them to be loud, especially on third down. We need it to be loud when they have the ball. I know the louder and the more we can feel this crowd, the better we’re going to play.”