Those fast Oregon Ducks are sped to their doom by Ohio State Buckeyes

Those fast Oregon Ducks are sped to their doom by Ohio State Buckeyes
Oregon players leave the field at AT&T Stadium after their 42-20 loss to Ohio State in the College Football Playoff championship game. (Brandon Wade / Associated Press)

The speed was stopped. The tempo was trampled. The coolest team in college football was punched in its shiny, swoosh-adorned jaw.

At the sweaty, painful end of their national championship nightmare Monday at AT&T Stadium, the only thing the Oregon players dominated was their aluminum bench.

It sat at the rear of their sideline. As Ohio State finished off a 42-20 pounding to win the inaugural College Football Playoff national title, that bench was full of Oregon players. Some were staring glassy-eyed at the giant overhead scoreboard. Some were quietly crying. Some covered their faces in towels.

"Get up!" shouted linebacker Torrodney Prevot, stalking in front of his teammates, wildly waving his hands. "Get up, get up, get up."


Nobody moved. It was the final indignity. Oregon had been more than just beaten. The fastest team in sports had been rendered motionless.

The dozen or so Ducks left the bench only when the final seconds had disappeared and the gold confetti had begun raining mercilessly down upon their spoiled parade. By the time they had trudged off the field, gold strands struck to their sleek cleats, slowing them one final time.

"It's definitely shocking," Prevot said later, shaking his head. "We had everything in store for them. There was nothing else we could do."

Ohio State wasn't even supposed to be here. Under the old Bowl Championship Series system, the Buckeyes would not have been here. Oregon was supposed to win here. After showing both strength and savvy in wiping out defending champion Florida State in the semifinals, this was supposed to be both coronation and affirmation for the blindingly fast spread system that had dominated college football's regular season for several years.

This was supposed to be all about the Ducks, a fact that was seemingly confirmed after Oregon had driven for a touchdown in less than three minutes on the game's opening drive.

"Then things just went wrong," said Oregon running back Thomas Tyner.

Things like a powerful Buckeyes attack that steamrollered the Ducks for 538 yards, including 246 yards rushing by Ezekiel Elliott. Things like a crushing Buckeyes defense that smothered a Ducks offense that couldn't sufficiently capitalize on four Ohio State turnovers. Things like an overwhelming Buckeyes culture with fans filling much of the stadium with red shirts and ominous cries of "Ohhhhh."

"You know," admitted Tyner, "they played a helluva game."

Once again, being overpowered and outfought has happened to an Oregon team that has long fought the perception it is not big or strong enough. Once again, college football's funkiest uniforms have been stained with blood and flattened against turf. Once again, Nike's team didn't do it.

Oregon is still looking for its first national championship, the Pac-12 Conference has once again been scolded and sent to its room to beef up, and yeah, for the umpteenth time, bring on the bad metaphors.

They were duck soup. They were duck, duck goosed. They had the quack beat out of them. They spent three rocky hours on the Oregon Fail.

Marcus Mariota, the Heisman Trophy winner, made fewer big plays than a third-string quarterback named Cardale Jones who has started all of three college games.

"I mean, it hurts," said Mariota, who was chased and pummeled enough that he actually left the game for a few moments in the fourth quarter. "It's tough to go out with a loss.

Mark Helfrich, the whiz-kid coach, was outschemed by Ohio State's increasingly legendary Coach Urban Meyer while making several strategic mistakes, particularly on a fourth and goal from the Ohio State three-yard line early in the second quarter. The Ducks were down 14-7 and could have used the points from the field goal. They should never have gone for it — that was a first guess here — and if they were going to go for it, don't you at least put it in the hands of your Heisman? Nope. Mariota handed it to Tyner, who was stuffed after two yards, giving the ball back to Ohio State.

"It's a tough, tough pill to swallow, knowing everything that these guys put into this season and how much we want these guys to be successful in the minds of everyone," said Helfrich.

Even with all that, Oregon closed the gap to one point midway through the third quarter. At which point, Jones and Elliott led the Buckeyes on a pounding 12-jab, 75-yard drive that ended in Elliott's nine-yard touchdown run, and the game never felt close again.

"I think they just played their game, to be honest," said Oregon receiver Byron Marshall. "We tried to play ours. It didn't really work out as planned."

The Midwestern game thumped the West Coast game. The big guys stomped the quick guys. It is a narrative that will seemingly never end.

"Ohio State is an amazing team," said Prevot, his eyes wide, as if confirming that this sort of team can not presently be found in the Pac-12, which has now gone 10 years without a national championship.

The Buckeyes truly are amazing, slipping into the postseason at the last minute with a third-string quarterback and dominating it. The best team won. The right team won. There will, finally, be no debate about college football's national champion, and that even means you, Texas Christian.

The new College Football Playoff system works. And in doing so, it painfully revealed that the Oregon way did not. Again.

Twitter: @billplaschke