Countdown to national championship game: Excitement building for Bucks vs. Ducks

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The Ohio State Buckeyes are saying thanks to everyone and for good reason; they are playing in college football’s first-ever playoff championship game on Monday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas against the Oregon Ducks.  Why are they so grateful?  They know if it wasn’t for the new playoff format, they would be watching Monday’s title game from the comforts of their homes.

“We would not be in it, neither would Oregon,” said Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. “I think Alabama and Florida State would have been playing in it and we were all part of the BCS for a long time. It’s an imperfect way to do it and the more I’m in it now, this is the only way to do it.”

The Buckeyes come into the game with a lot of momentum.  They throttled Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten Championship game and came from behind to beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on January 1.  Ohio State will meet up with the Oregon Ducks who come into the game as arguably the fastest team in the country. During the Rose Bowl game against Florida State the Ducks were running a play every 20.2 seconds.

Oregon’s offense comes in short-handed. Devon Allen, who is second on the Ducks roster with 41 catches for 684 yards is out for Monday’s game after hurting his knee in the Rose Bowl game against Florida State.  Darren Carrington was suspended for the game reportedly for a failed drug test.  He has 37 catches for 704 yards this season for Oregon.

Ohio State knows a little something about being short-handed.  The Buckeyes are playing with their third-string quarterback, Cardale Jones, who led the Buckeyes to the Big Ten Championship Title and the Sugar Bowl Title.  The Cleveland native, who played high school ball at Glenville High School has been calm, cool and collective in both of his starts this season.  He knows the challenge he faces with Oregon and its very quick and tough defense.

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“They don’t get as much credit as they deserve,” Jones said Saturday during Media Day.  “When you think about Oregon you think about the offense; you think about the Heisman Trophy winner and their tempo but their defense keeps their offense motivated.”

Jones also appears to be getting  two more playmakers back. Injured H-back Dontre Wilson did some early work during practice on Saturday, while tight end Jeff Heuerman told reporters he expects to play after injuring his ankle during the Sugar Bowl.  Receiver Devin Smith was sick and missed media interviews but did practice with the team later in the day Saturday.

The Buckeyes are in search of the school’s 8th national championship and first since 2002.  If they can beat Oregon Monday they’ll have another chance to say thank you.

**Our Buckeye coverage continues RIGHT HERE. P.J. will be heading to Columbus to cover all the national championship excitement so keep it to FOX 8 News and for much more.**