CFP: 'College Football Perfect (matchups)'
By JIM O'SHEA
College Contributor Network
The first year of the College Football Playoff has brought much debate with it. But in the end, the committee got it right. And if you don't believe me, then get ready.
The formula for a great football team is two things: a great coach and a great quarterback. Just look at the best teams this century: the Patriots (Belichick/Brady), Packers (McCarthy/Rodgers), Colts (Dungy/Manning), Steelers (Cowher and Tomlin/Roethlisberger), Florida (Meyer/Tebow), USC (Carroll/Leinart).
These teams are the epitome of greatness because of what makes them great, the key pieces they have completing the puzzle. Well, the two matchups of this Thursday's playoff are exactly that.
Oregon vs. Florida State pits two Heisman trophy winners against each other. That should make it special enough. But what makes it even better is the position they play: quarterback.
Oregon's Marcus Mariota may need a new shelf, or two, or three after all the awards he took home this year. The junior not only hoisted the Heisman trophy, but also the Maxwell Award, Davey O'Brien Award, Walter Camp Award, AP Player of the Year. I think you get it. The guy had one hell of a year.
His dual-threat ability has forced defenses to just about be ready to give up and throw in the towel. He's accounted for three or more touchdowns in 12 of 13 games and has four TDs ten times in 2014. He has a 19:1 touchdown to interception ratio -- 38 passing TDs, two INTs. Let that sink in for a second.
Mariota also holds the school record for most wins (35), passing yards (10,125), touchdown passes (101), completion percentage (.666), and total TDs (131). And that's not even all of them.
Oh yeah, and he has already graduated with a 3.22 GPA. A pretty smart and talented guy if you ask me.
On the other side is another multi-talented fellow. Jameis Winston took home all the hardware last season. All of the awards I listed for Mariota were Winston's a year ago. So instead of typing them all out, just "see above."
And with all of the off-the-field issues Winston has dealt with (accused of stealing crab legs, sexual assault case, yelling a profane phrase in the FSU student union) he has still had a solid 2014 campaign. The red-shirt sophomore completed just over 65 percent of his passes and accounted for 24 touchdowns through the air and three on the ground.
Now, yes Winston does have 17 INTs, but you may not know this -- in the second half, also known as "winning time," he has 11 TDs and three INTs. And in the fourth quarter, it gets even better. The quarterback has four TDs and only one interception.
When it matters and the pressure is on, Winston performs. It's the main reason why he is an astounding 27-0 in his career as a starter.
Also, Mariota and Winston are one-two in some mock NFL Drafts. And not just in the top quarterbacks, but the top overall prospects.
Now onto the other semifinal matchup.
Alabama and Ohio State feature the other part of a great team: the coach.
Nick Saban has built a dynasty at Alabama. Three championships in four years and almost had a shot at four in five before Chris Davis in the Iron Bowl happened last year.
And oh yeah, we can't forget about the one he won at LSU in 2003.
Since taking over at Alabama in 2007, he is 86-16 and 72-8 in the past six seasons, that's an average of 1.3 losses per year since 2009, and the Tide has won at least 10 games in each of the last seven seasons -- winning 12+ in five of those.
Now onto the other man with multiple crystal balls: Urban Meyer.
Meyer also knows what it takes to win football games, especially in the SEC. He won two national championships in three years at Florida and had a chance at three in four before Nick Saban's Alabama team knocked off the Gators in the SEC Championship in 2009.
Meyer is 140-26 in his career as a head coach. That's a .845 winning percentage. His teams win about 8.5 out of every 10 games they play in!
Since 2001, when he began at Bowling Green, he has never had less than eight wins in a season and no more than five losses. He has more 12+ win seasons (7) than 11 or less win ones.
And with his next game being in the playoff, well that doesn't scare Meyer one bit. He is 7-2 in postseason play and 2-0 in national championships.
So, come New Year's Day and the Rose Bowl Game gets set to kick off, stop the debate! Just sit back and enjoy two great matchups of four of the best in the game at what they do.
Jim O'Shea is a junior at Syracuse University studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism. Born and raised in Houston, TX. He's an avid Texans and Texas Rangers fan. Also golf is his favorite sport. Follow him on Twitter: @JimOShea4