Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott racked up record rushing numbers to lead the Buckeyes to a 42-20 upset of No. 2 Oregon in the first college football playoff championship game. The sophomore rushed for 246 yards and four touchdowns to lead the No. 4 Buckeyes (14-1) to their first national championship since 2002.

Ohio State gave the Ducks plenty of opportunities to stay in the game, turning the ball over four times. But Oregon’s high-octane offense sputtered much of the night, going just 2-of-12 on third down after converting 51% of the time previously. Heisman winner Marcus Mariota threw for 333 yards and two scores, but was under pressure much of the night and was only 6-of-14 with an interception in the final 26 minutes of the game. Aside from a 70-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter, Oregon managed just 75 total yards, a field goal and an interception in the second half.

Ohio State’s Cardale Jones, who started the season as the third-string quarterback, had another solid night in just his third career start, throwing for 242 yards and a touchdown. But the big story was the Buckeye’s running game, which gashed Oregon for big yards all night and kept Mariota and the Ducks’ offense on the sideline. Behind a massive offensive line that wore down the Oregon defense, Ezekiel Elliott pounded the Ducks for 148 yards in the second half alone.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Elliott’s 246 rushing yards were a career high, but also set a new record for a championship game and an Ohio State bowl record. He is the first player in Buckeye history to rush for 200+ yards in three consecutive games, rushing for 696 total yards against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon.

The win gives Ohio State its sixth national championship and coach Urban Meyer his third, after winning two previously (2006, 2008) at Florida. Oregon, meanwhile, will have to regroup next year, likely without Mariota, still in pursuit of its first national title.

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