NEW: Drug Test Sidelines Star Player in Championship Game
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Carrington allegedly tested positive for pot in a routine drug test administered by the NCAA, according to the ESPN. Representatives from Oregon's athletic department refused to elaborate on the suspension, aside from confirming Carrington's ineligibility.
Carrington was the Ducks' second leading receiver this season. He caught 27 passes for 704 yards and four touchdowns, including 126 yards and touchdown in the Pac-12 championship and 165 yards and two touchdowns in the Rose Bowl. The combination of Mariota to Carrington has accounted for 13 plays over 20 yards on the year.
The Ducks are especially thin at receiver after the suspension. Devon Allen is out with an injury he suffered in the Rose Bowl. Tight End Pharaoh Brown suffered a season-ending injury against Utah.
Oregon will face Ohio State for the national championship Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. PST.
Related Slideshow: Slideshow:10 Players with the Most to Prove in the National Championship Game
Here are 10 players with something to prove in the Jan. 12 national championship game:
Oregon Receiver Dwayne Stanford will be facing off against a close friend when he takes the field against Ohio State. He and Buckeyes defensive tackle Adolphus Washington played together at Taft High School in Cincinnati. The pair helped lead their school to back-to-back trips to the state playoff in football and managed to win a state title in basketball during their senior year.
The two players were highly-recruited out of high school - they even went on a recruiting trip to Ohio State together - but ultimately chose to play for different schools.
With his home state watching, Stanford will have a chance to prove that he made the right decision when he chose the upstart Ducks over the prestigious Buckeyes.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Despite having impressive numbers in offseason workouts, Ohio State Receiver Devin Smith has had less than 1,000 yards receiving on the year. That could if Smith has a big performance against Oregon.
It could happen - no receiver in the nation has had more big plays this season than Smith. He leads the country in receptions over 20 yards, registering more yards and touchdowns for those catches than anyone else in 2014.
Both teams will need a few big plays in the College Football Playoff Finals, and Smith will be looking to prove his playmaking ability in front of a larger audience than ever before.
Oregon Corner Troy Hill was got a lot of action this season. Playing opposite of All-American Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, opposing quarterbacks challenged Hill, throwing his way early and often.
It’s not easy being compared to an All-American - the sports media in Oregon called out Hill for not consistently securing his island, a must in Don Pellum’s bump-and-run defense.
However, Hill stepped up big against Jameis Winston - no Florida State player had over 100 yards receiving in the Rose Bowl and their longest reception was only 29 yards.
If Hill can step up again in the national championship game - shut down Ohio State receivers and affectively render Urban Meyer’s offense one dimensional - the Ducks could find themselves in position for another surprise blowout.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Overnight, Ohio State Quarterback Cardale Jones went from third-stringer to college football star.
He’s played well in his last two starts leading his team to back-to-back wins against Wisconsin and Alabama - and some columnists have said that a win against Oregon could cause Jones’ NFL draft-stock to skyrocket (pink sheet-style).
A redshirt sophomore entering the NFL after only three wins is usually unheard of, but Jones has the size and arm strength to catch the eye of NFL scouts. With J.T. Barrett returning next year, there’s guarantee Jones will start for the Buckeyes in 2015. He might as well go for it and try to make it on an NFL roster.
Besides, stranger things have happened in the league - just ask Matt Cassel.
In a game that could be his last college football start, look for Jones to play like he has nothing to lose.
Oregon receiver Keanan Lowe is player with pro-level talent who would be on NFL draft boards if he had chosen to be the the star of an inferior team. Lowe he hasn’t been able to break out from a super-talented stable of receivers at Oregon (he's currently the team's sixth-leading receiver). This year, he has 359 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
However, he steps up in the close games. Lowe's best game this season was a 104 yard, two touchdown performance in a squeaker against Washington State. One of Lowe’s touchdowns gave the Ducks the lead for good in the game. If Ducks hadn't rallied against Wazzou, the team's two losses would have likely knocked them out of playoff contention.
The the national championship may be close game as well - the Ducks are only favored by six and half points.
There will be lot of extra eyes on the game. If Lowe can step up and have a few big catches or big blocks on the national stage - he may be able to find a way to get his foot in the door as an NFL kick returner.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State Running back Ezekiel Elliot has been one of the keys to Ohio State’s postseason success.
In the Buckeyes’ last two wins against Wisconsin and Alabama, Elliot has rushed for 450 and four touchdowns on just 40 carries, averaging 11.3 yards ever time he's carried the ball.
If Elliot can ride his own momentum to another 200+ yard performance in a win against Oregon, he’ll solidify himself as the de-facto MVP of the postseason - respect similar to the high regard Ndamukong Suh received after blowing up in Nebraska’s final two games of 2009 season, even though Alabama’s Mark Ingram won the Heisman.
Oregon Safety Erick Dargan has stepped up as a leader in the Ducks’ secondary.
After an impressive performance against Florida State, Dargan will be looking to prove himself again against Ohio State.
If he can come up with just a few more big plays Jan. 12, the senior may be able to catch the eyes of NFL scouts.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State Corner Doran Grant is the top defensive back for the Buckeyes. He showed his skill by maintaining Alabama Receiver Amari Cooper - a Heisman finalist behind Mariota.
For the Buckeyes to have a chance against the Ducks, he’ll need to duplicate his Sugar Bowl effort against a hot hand of Oregon receivers who are playing pitch-and-catch with the best quarterback in the game.
It’s no easy task - Duck Receiver Darren Carrington had seven catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns in the rose bowl, while Marcus Mariota is the only player in College Football Bowl Subdivision history to account for 50 more touchdowns than turnovers in a season (56 total TDs to six total turnovers).
If he can lead his teammates in an upset win against the Ducks, Grant will prove to NFL scouts that he’s an elite-level defensive back that deserves big money.
Michael Bennet is a projected pick in the May NFL draft. A
t 6’2 and 288 pounds, the defensive tackle is undersized at his position. That may not matter for Bennett if he can have another big performance against Oregon Jan. 12.
After registering a sack and 1.5 tackles for a loss against Alabama in Ohio State’s semi-final win, look for Bennet to step up again - his team’s success may depend on it.
Ohio State Tight End Jeff Heuerman is a bit of a throwback for his position - more of a blocker than receiver.
Although that style doesn't earn a lot of NFL fantasy points, it does earn roster spots.
Still, the lumbering Heuerman is thought to be one of the best tight ends in college football. If he can have a big game against Oregon as a blocker and an outlet, Heurerman could potentially put himself in good position going into the May NFL draft.
- Marcus Mariota: Let’s Put A Bow On This
- Marcus Mariota:14 People Who Made a Difference in 2014
- Are the Ducks Losing Their Innovative Edge?
- Ducks Going to the Rose Bowl
- Ten Injuries That Could Have Cost The Ducks and Bucks Their Season
- Uniforms, Pride, And The Oregon Ducks In The National Championship
- What We Learned: Oregon Ducks Vs Washington State Cougars