As we inch closer and closer to the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship in Arlington, Texas on Monday, January 12th, all the talk is about the players and their match-ups on the field. Rightfully so, the players are the ones that will decide the outcome on Monday night at AT&T Stadium. With that being said, Urban Meyer and Mark Helfrich are the architects of both of these great football teams. Both have reached this point in different ways, but they’ve both done it with one thing in common – it’s been on their terms.
Both Meyer and Helfrich are coaching at their home state’s premier institutions. Meyer was born in Toledo, Ohio and Helfrich was born in Coos Bay, Oregon. They both played college football in their home state as well. Meyer played at Cincinnati and Helfrich at Southern Oregon. Both guys understand what it means to their home states when their programs are at the pinnacle of college football. Ohio State is one of the true blue bloods of college football with a rich tradition and 7 national championships to its credit. Oregon is a newcomer to the elite scene of college football. They’ve been building to this moment for the past few decades and appeared in their only national championship a few years ago when they were defeated by Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers.
While Oregon is the favorite to win the game according to Vegas (-6 as of Saturday morning), the coaching match-up advantage has to go to Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes. That’s not to diminish Helfrich’s ability, but Meyer has won 2 National Championships (Florida – 2006, 2008), and has a career record of 141 – 26 (.844) including a 37 – 3 (.925) mark at Ohio State and an 8 – 2 (.800) record in bowl games including Ohio State’s 42-35 victory over Alabama in this year’s Sugar Bowl. Helfrich is less experienced, as he’s only in his second season as a head coach at any level. He’s proving he belongs at this level though with a record of 24 – 3 with a 2 – 0 bowl record including his dominating victory over defending champion Florida State Seminoles in the Rose Bowl.
Both guys are also known as offensive head coaches. Both run spread attacks and love getting their athletes out in space in one-on-one opportunities. Don’t be fooled though, both understand the importance of running the ball and what it means for their offenses long term success. Royce Freeman leads Oregon in rushing with 1,343 yards and 18 TD’s while Ezekiel Elliott leads Ohio State in rushing with 1,632 yards and 14 TD’s. Both offenses average over 500 yards per game and 7 yards per play. So it’ll be interesting to see if either defense can slow down the opposing offense at all. Whether it be with turnovers or excellent execution.
Another interesting side note is the familiarity between Urban Meyer and the Oregon program. During Meyer’s year off working for ESPN, he went out to Eugene 2 or 3 times to study the program and hang out with then Head Coach Chip Kelly. Over his tenure at Ohio State, Meyer has mentioned Oregon and how they go about their business. It’s not just about scheme and X’s and O’s, but he mentions how Oregon’s whole program is “aligned” from players to coaches to administration staff and even the student body. Without a doubt, both programs and head coaches’ respect one another. Both are class acts and represent their programs and home states with dignity and class. The first ever College Football Playoff National Championship should be one to remember. Helfrich hopes to bring home Oregon’s first ever national championship in this new era of college football while Meyer hopes to bring home his third and Ohio State’s 8th. Guess we’ll have to wait until Monday night – which by the way can’t get here soon enough.
College Football Playoff National Championship – Ohio State vs. Oregon
Monday, January 12th, 8:30pm EST
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX