Playoffs have a way of establishing legends. The College Football Playoff is all of one installment in, and has a Joe Montana in the 1989 NFL Playoffs, a Reggie Jackson 1977 World Series, a Magic Johnson 1980 Finals thanks to Ezekiel Elliott.
“A monster,” is how Urban Meyer described Elliott in Monday’s postgame press conference, via ASAP Sports.
“It doesn’t feel real,” Elliott said in his postgame interview on ESPN, following the Buckeyes’ 42-20 win over Oregon to claim the first national championship of the Playoff era.
Indeed, surreal is a more fitting description for Elliott’s play in each of Ohio State’s wins. Oregon was powerless to stop him on the way to 246 yards and four touchdowns in Monday’s Title tilt.
“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.”
Ezekiel Elliott gave pundits renewed talking points concerning the Ducks’ toughness, but Oregon is not alone. Alabama was similarly unable to slow Elliott on New Year’s Day, when he went off for 230 yards and two touchdowns.
No one would accuse Alabama of lacking toughness up front; nor would they label Wisconsin a finesse team. And yet, before he rolled over Alabama and Oregon for 476 combined yards, Ezekiel Elliott pounded the Badgers for 220 yards in the Big Ten Championship Game last month.
Elliott didn’t have a 200-yard rushing game before this postseason, but he certainly picked the right time to rip off three straight.
He’ll have no shortage of motivation to make it four straight when Ohio State opens next season; the Buckeyes open 2015 on Labor Day at Virginia Tech, the one team that beat them in this championship campaign.
And, oh yeah, Ezekiel Elliott will be back. He’s all of 19. At his age, I was trying to figure out how to get dates in between sessions of Counterstrike. It went about as well as strategies to contain Elliott these last three games, but I digress.
“We get him at least for one more year, so I can’t wait to…start back to work,” Meyer said. “I’ll give you a couple days off, Zeke, and we’re back at it.”
Such a young age to go legendary — Elliott’s picture will hang on walls in Columbus bars he cannot legally enter for over a year.
By the time Elliott’s 21st birthday rolls around, Buckeyes faithful will have plenty to which to toast him. And by then, “underrated” most certainly won’t be an adjective to describe him.
Urban Meyer: "Zeke Elliott is the most underrated back in America." And in the Big Ten.
— Blair Kerkhoff (@BlairKerkhoff) January 13, 2015