A Missourian left his mark in a game that will go down as one of the most historic in Division I football history. In the first season that a true playoff system was used, St. Louis native and former John Burroughs High School alum Ezekiel Elliot scored four touchdowns to help Ohio State win their first National Championship since 2002 with a 42-20 win over the Oregon Ducks.
Elliot also enters the record books. The sophomore ran 36 times for 246 yards, his third straight game with more than 200 yards on the ground. He ran for 220 in the Buckeyes 59-0 win over Wisconsin in Big Ten title game, and 230 in the victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Elliott was named Offensive Player of the Game after he posted the highest rushing total by an FBS player in a championship game.
Elliot received high praise from his coach Urban Meyer.
“He’s a monster,” Meyer said. “I love Zeke because he’s very humble, comes from a great family and deserves the credit. However, he’s the most underrated back in America. He’s one of the best post-contact-yard guys I’ve ever been around. On top of that, he’s a great human being, and we’ve got him for at least one more year, so I can’t wait to get back at it.”
Elliott’s father, Stacy, and mother, Dawn, were each student-athletes at and graduates of the University of Missouri with Stacy a football player and Dawn a member of the track and field team. Elliot had Missouri on his short list of teams when deciding where to play. It looks like he certainly made the right choice.
“It seems like we’ve been through everything, and it made us who we are,” Elliott said. “This is a surreal moment. It’s why we all came here. After all we went through, this is crazy. It doesn’t feel real.”
After the Ducks drove down the field to score on their opening drive, Elliot got the Buckeyes on the board late in the first quarter with a 33-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7. Elliott averaged 6.8 yards per carry. He was ready to make an impact on the game.
“I knew going into the game we wanted to run the ball. We knew our offensive line was bigger and more physical than their defensive line. We just had to punch them in the mouth. Our offensive line came out and played their butts off and paved the way for me. He [QB Cardale Jones] just kept feeding me the ball,” said Elliott.
Elliot scored three touchdowns in the second half to break the game open. Elliott moved up to No. 2 on Ohio State’s list of best rushing seasons with 1,878, just shy of Eddie George’s record of 1,927 yards set in 1995. Elliott played in 15 games, George in 12.