In the days leading up to the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship, the Emerald will take a unit-by-unit look at Oregon and Ohio State, determining which team has the edge going into the showdown on Jan. 12 in Dallas. Today, we’ll look at each team’s starting quarterbacks.
The Heisman trophy winner versus the third-string quarterback: On paper, the quarterback matchup couldn’t be more lopsided. Redshirt junior Marcus Mariota has been the epitome of consistency in his time at Oregon. He’s won every postseason game MVP award, he’s thrown for a touchdown in all 40 of his career games and he’s 36-4 in that time.
Ohio State’s sophomore Cardale Jones is making his third career start after beating Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game and Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Despite the inexperience, Jones has proven that he’s got a lot of talent built up inside his 6-foot-5, 250 pound frame. his nickname, “12-gauge,” fits perfectly for his powerful, 85-yard throwing arm.
Let’s take a look at the stats and see what each team is saying about their adversary at quarterback.
– Marcus Mariota is the only quarterback in college football history to throw for over thirty touchdowns in his freshman (32), sophomore (31) and junior seasons (40).
– Mariota’s touchdown-to-interception ratio of 103-13 is the best in college football history. Florida’s former Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow is behind him with a ratio of 88-16.
– Mariota has combined for 12,661 total yards in his career at Oregon.
– Mariota has been critical in starting the Oregon offense off successfully on first down. On first down this season, he’s 134-of-187 passing for 1932 yards, 19 touchdowns and one interception.
What the Buckeyes are saying about Mariota
Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa
“He’s such a dual threat with his legs and his arms. It’s really not one more than the other, we’ll have to limit both to beat them.”
Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones
“His leadership and his decision making is unbelievable.”
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer
“I think his athleticism is very similar to Braxton Miller. I think he’s a sub 4.4 player that plays extremely fast like Braxton. I think his skill set is a lot like Braxton, so probably Braxton Miller as far as skill set and just taking over a game with athleticism.”
– Cardale Jones hasn’t thrown an interception in the second half for the Buckeyes. In his three starts, he’s thrown four touchdowns in the second half.
– Against Wisconsin, the 17th ranked defense in points against, Jones was near-perfect: completing 12 of his 17 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns.
– Jones has completed 46.7 percent of his passes on third down, his worst percentage of any down.
– Jones has run the ball 51 times this year for 258 yards and zero touchdowns, including 17 carries for just 43 yards against the Crimson Tide.
What the Ducks are saying about Jones
Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich
“He’s a fantastic football player. He’s big, unbelievably fast for his size, very physical runner and then can put the ball on the money. I joked the other day, they’re about 70:30 on 50:50 balls if it’s one on one in the corner and their guy goes up and gets it. There are multiple plays against Alabama, which is arguably the most talented team in college football, and their 1 is beating the other 1 most of the time, and to have that kind of confidence along with a physical power run game element that they have is very difficult to defend.”
Oregon safety Erick Dargan
“He is dangerous. I think he’s more dangerous than a lot of people gave him credit for already. He can run, you know he’s not scared to take off, he’s not really sliding or nothing. He’s going to try and deliver a blow, whether he’s ready to go out of bounds or he’s in the middle. He can throw the ball from hash to hash, and he’s got a deep ball. Anytime you’ve got a quarterback that can throw the ball hash to hash and deliver the ball downfield, you’ve got to watch out for him.”
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota
“He’s an incredible football player. His ability to step up when his team needs him says a lot about who he is. He’s going to make plays, and he’s an incredible athlete that has a strong arm and somebody that can change the game with his abilities. He’s a special player, and really just an awesome teammate.”
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