NCAA football fans couldn’t ask for a better National Championship game. The first ever College Football Playoff has arguably been a great success, as the four-team tourney showed that top-ranked Alabama wasn’t actually the best team in the country and that the undefeated Florida State Seminoles weren’t close to championship material.

Instead of the Crimson Tide or the Seminoles, we get the Oregon Ducks and Ohio State Buckeyes, two teams with entirely different journeys, but the same ultimate goal – to win a national championship. Oregon searches for it’s first ever national title, while Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes try to reclaim the elusive trophy. Either way we get a first in Monday night’s showdown, as the winner will be the first team to work their way through a playoff to be crowned the champs. And if the Ducks are the ones to do it, history is made with a first ever college football champion being born, as well.

The big question is, who wins it? Both teams enter tonight’s matchup with a 13-1 record, with the Buckeyes losing only to Virginia Tech, while Oregon’s only lost came against conference rival, Arizona. With just one blemish on each team’s record, both will enter on insane hot streaks (Buckeyes have won 12 straight and Oregon has won nine straight) but only one can win. Let’s find out who by taking a look at the matchup and odds:

The Matchup

This is your classic offense vs. defense battle, as the Buckeyes enter the biggest game of the year with the 17th ranked defense and Oregon boasts the nation’s third best overall offense. The kicker? Ohio State’s offense hasn’t been to shabby, either, as they ranked just a few spots behind the Ducks at 8th, overall.

In the scoring department, Oregon hasn’t been that bad defensively, though. Just four teams were able to put up more than 30 points on them, while they held an opponent below 21 points eight different times, including each of their last four contests. That pales in comparison with the Buckeyes’ defense, though, which blanked the Badgers 59-0 in the Big 10 title game and allowed an opponent to top 30 points just three times all year.

Ultimately, this might be as evenly matched as a title game might get. Some will say Oregon’s defense showed against Florida State last week that it can create havoc (they forced 5 turnovers) and that their offense, led by Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, cannot be tamed. On the other side, Ohio State is the Cinderella as the fourth seed and has displayed a true grit like no one else in all of college football this year. It just so happens, they also bring the numbers offensively and defensively to hypothetically matchup with Oregon, as well.

The Odds

Regardless of numbers or big names, Oregon enters tonight as the favorites with a -6 line. While the actual pick could be a virtual toss-up, the total (74) should be obtainable, and might be the friendliest bet to place for tonight’s action. Both defenses appear highly capable of stifling the other, but with both offenses managing to top 30+ points in 13 of their 14 contests, a low-scoring defensive battle probably isn’t in the cards.

The Pick

It’s tough to call spreads in the college football scene, but the safe bet could be on Ohio State to beat the spread. They have the stingier defense, arguably are led by the better coach (Meyer) and also have a good enough offense to go toe to toe with Mariota’s crew if need be. The Ducks are still this writer’s pick to ultimately get the win and secure their first ever national championship, but they’ll do it by just three points.

Pick: Ducks 41, Buckeyes 38

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