DALLAS — Oregon knew what was coming — the booming chants of “ZEEEEEKE” echoing throughout AT&T Stadium from the pro-Ohio State crowd gave it away — but still couldn’t stop it.
Ezekiel Elliott was on a mission. And Ohio State’s sophomore running back was not to be denied.
“I knew that if we came out and pounded them all game that at one point they would break,” Elliott said.
It looked like that’s exactly what happened, too.
The Buckeyes blasted Oregon on Monday night, 42-20, in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game and it was Elliott who led the way. The St. Louis native carried the ball a career-high 36 times for 246 yards and four touchdowns.
Elliott ran over, around and through Ducks defenders as he and Ohio State's offensive line simply wore out the Oregon defense.
“He’s a monster,” Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer said.
It was the third-straight monster-like effort for Elliott, though.
Against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, he had 220 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. In the Buckeyes’ 42-35 win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, Elliott had 230 yards and a pair of scores.
Add in Monday’s performance against the Ducks and that’s a three-game total of 696 yards with eight rushing touchdowns.
“We knew Zeke, from the first day he got here, was a special cat,” senior tight end Jeff Heuerman said. “You’ve seen what he can do and he’s shown it the second half of the season. It’s been really special to watch, to play with him and to block for him.”
Elliott seems to be the perfect fit for Meyer’s offense. His combination of power and speed make him a nightmare to try to prepare for. Meyer has preached in the past he likes angry football teams and Elliott is an angry football player.
“I’m just glad Zeke is on my team, man,” Ohio State safety Tyvis Powell said. “I would hate to have to go against him.”
Like any great back, Elliott knows his record-setting night against the Ducks wouldn’t have been possible if not for the guys blocking in front of him. Ohio State’s offensive line is one of the most improved units in all of college football.
“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,” Elliott said. “The O-line, they came out, they played their butts off and they paved the way for me.”
Elliott’s season has been one for the record books. His performance Monday night against Oregon allowed him to climb all the way to No. 2 on Ohio State’s single-season rushing list. He passed guys like Archie Griffin and Keith Byars. He finished the year with 1,878 rushing yards.
Not bad for a guy who was only named honorable mention All-Big Ten.
“I have so much respect for him, so much love for him and everything he’s done. This makes me really, really proud,” Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee said. “It’s great to see him shine, man, and we rode him.”
All the way to a national championship.