NEW: Ohio State upsets No. 1 Alabama behind sizzling running of Ezekiel Elliott
Oregon ends defending champ Florida State's 29-game winning streak
Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota passes for two scores, runs for another
The matchup in the title game of the new college football playoff system likely wouldn’t have happened in past years.
Second-ranked Oregon and fourth-ranked Ohio State will play for the championship after winning the initial semifinal games in the first College Football Playoff.
Oregon crushed undefeated and defending national champ Florida State 59-20 in the Rose Bowl on Thursday then Ohio State continued its surge by edging No. 1 Alabama 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl.
Under the former system, the Bowl Championship Series, FSU and Alabama probably would have met in the final game.
In the first semifinal, Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota completed 26 of 36 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns for Oregon (13-1). He also ran for one score.
“You prepare all week to find success. And to execute the way we did, it definitely feels good,” he told reporters. “Hopefully we can take a little bit of this momentum heading into the next game.”
Oregon running backs Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner each scored on two touchdown runs as the Ducks ended the Seminoles 29-game winning streak.
Florida State (13-1), the defending national champion, was done in by five turnovers. The miscues included a fumble in the third quarter by quarterback Jameis Winston that was turned into a back-breaking 58-yard touchdown return by Ducks linebacker Tony Washington. Oregon scored four TDs in the third period to lead 45-20 going into the fourth.
“We just turned the ball over too many times. We had one of the worst quarters we have ever had,” Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “They made the plays, and they converted.”
Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, was 29 of 45 for 348 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
In the second semifinal, running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 230 yards on 20 carries and had two touchdowns for Ohio State (13-1). The key score came on an 85-yard bolt to the end zone.
“Playing for each other. That’s how we did it,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.
Alabama (12-2) gave up 537 yards of offense to Ohio State.
“It was our goal to play our best in this game so we would have an opportunity to play in a national championship game, but we obviously didn’t do the things that we needed to do,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “But I think there are a lot of winners on this team and I don’t think that you necessarily need to get a trophy to be a winner.”
The two semifinal winners will meet for the championship on January 12 in Arlington, Texas, at 8:30 p.m. ET.