Ohio State is looking for its first national title since 2002. Oregon is seeking its first, period.

Pac-12 champion Oregon and Big Ten champion Ohio State will meet in Arlington, Texas, at the home of the Cowboys on Jan. 12 in the first College Football Playoff championship game.

The Ducks (13-1) and Buckeyes (13-1) last played in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, in 2010. Ohio State won that game 26-17. Now the Rose Bowl comes to Texas, but with so much more at stake.

Cardale Jones, Ezekiel Elliott and fourth-seeded Ohio State rallied, and then held on for a 42-35 victory over No. 1 Alabama at the Sugar Bowl on Thursday night.

Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota and Oregon had it much easier. The second-seeded Ducks crushed Florida State 59-20 at the Rose Bowl.

“Oregon won by 40?” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said, startled when he heard about the results during his postgame news conference in New Orleans. The oddsmakers have installed the Ducks as seven-point favorites.

The College Football Playoff, a four-team tournament that replaced the Bowl Championship Series, has provided a jolt to the sport.

The BCS matched the top two teams and didn’t allow much room for error. An early slip often could spell doom for a team’s national title hopes.

In the old system, it would have been very difficult for Ohio State to recover from a September home loss to Virginia Tech. The Buckeyes were a team looking for an identity back then. They had lost star quarterback Braxton Miller to a preseason injury and redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett was still developing.

Ohio State lost by 14 to the Hokies on the same day Oregon beat Michigan State.

Two weeks into the season, the Big Ten was already being counted out for the first playoff.

But a funny thing happened. Ohio State just kept getting better.


HOUSTON 35, PITTSBURGH 34: Greg Ward threw three TD passes in the final 3:41 at Fort Worth, Texas, two after Houston recovered onside kicks, and completed a winning 2-point conversion for the Cougars (8-5).


TENNESSEE 45, IOWA 28: Joshua Dobbs accounted for three TDs, Jalen Hurd ran for two scores and Tennessee won at Jacksonville, Florida, for its first postseason victory since 2008. Tennessee (7-6) scored on its first four possessions, taking a 28-0 lead over the Hawkeyes (7-6).


UCLA 40, KANSAS STATE 35: Quarterback Brett Hundley led No. 14 UCLA to a 31-6 halftime lead and the Bruins held off No. 11 Kansas State at San Antonio. Kansas State (9-4) scored 22 of the first 25 points in the second half, cutting it to 34-28 on quarterback Jake Waters’ 1-yard run with 4:54 left.