ARLINGTON, Texas – When asked about running back Ezekiel Elliott after the Buckeyes' 42-20 win over Oregon in the College Football Playoff National Championship, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was very quick with a description.
"A monster," Meyer said.
It's hard to argue with the point. The Buckeyes' sophomore running back was phenomenal against Oregon on Monday night as he had 36 carries for 246 yards and four touchdowns. The yards and touchdowns are an Ohio State bowl record.
Elliott opened Ohio State's scoring in the first quarter with a 33-yard touchdown run, bursting through a hole and then zigging and zagging his way though Oregon's secondary. Through the first 30 minutes of the game, he had 11 carries and 98 yards. The Elliott formula was clearly working, so the dosage got upped at halftime.
And the zigging and zagging was accompanied by a lot more bruising. Ohio State simply wore down Oregon's defense in the second half thanks to Elliott's punishing runs as he carried the ball 25 more times in the final two quarters. If Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones is a freight train at 6-5, 250, Elliott is his 18-wheeler counterpart at 6-0, 225 – the running back didn't have a carry go for negative yardage the entire game.
"Oh, I definitely feel it now, but I knew going into the game that we wanted to run the ball," Elliott said. "We knew that our O-line was bigger and more physical than their D-line, and we just had to punch them in the mouth and the O-line, they came out, they played their butts off and they paved the way for me."
Elliott's final three touchdowns came in the game's last 15 minutes and change. He scored to end the third quarter and give Ohio State a 28-20 lead. His third score came with just over 10 minutes left and his final touchdown came with 1:24 left.
[Yahoo Team Fan Shop: Buy Ohio State national championship merchandise]
If the BCS still existed, Elliott's game would have set records for rushing attempts, touchdowns and yards. Adrian Peterson has the BCS Championship Game record for carries with 25 in 2005 and Vince Young held the yardage and touchdown records with 200 yards and three touchdowns in his 2006 performance against USC.
Meyer praised Elliott's humility and called him "the most underrated back in America."
"He's one of the best post-contact yard guys I've ever been around, and on top of that he's a great human being, so I can't wait to – we get him at least for one more year – so I can't wait [until we get] back to work. I'll give you a couple days off, Zeke, and we're back at it, you and Cardale," Meyer said while sitting next to Elliott and Jones on the press conference podium after the game.
You can argue Meyer's point about Elliott being underrated, however. Monday was Elliott's third straight game over 200 yards after gaining 220 yards against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game and 230 yards against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
The games moved Elliott's season total to 1,878 yards, a cumulative performance behind only Eddie George's 1,927 yards in school history and that was during George's Heisman Trophy-winning 1995 season.
Elliott's going to be in the preseason conversation for that trophy entering the 2015 season.
"It's something you dream about as a kid when you're playing NCAA Football and you create your little player and he wins the Heisman," Elliott said. "Just thinking that I'm going to have the opportunity next year to compete for the Heisman, just it means everything.
"I'm not going to change, I'm going to keep grinding. I'm going to do all I can to win it."
For more Ohio State news, visit BuckeyeGrove.com.
- - - - - - -