The big day is here. Monday night, history gets made when No. 2 Oregon and No. 4 Ohio State meet in the first College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T (8:30 ET, ESPN). Before the final countdown to kickoff, here are three more things to watch in this title-game matchup.
1. Tempo test: Urban Meyer has spent these 10 days of prep time focused on what he calls the "demon" -- the fatigue factor. If we get a high-scoring affair as expected, who will be the first to slow down? And which team can exert control over the pace of this game? Both Oregon and Ohio State have the physical fronts and power backs to make this a brawl, but we're also talking about two teams playing in their 15th game of the season. Both Meyer and Mark Helfrich not only intend to outfox their opponent but wear them out. In a showdown this good, someone will have to break.
2. Mariota vs. Cardale: The Heisman Trophy winner versus the third-stringer. Marcus Mariota can complete his legacy as one of the best college quarterbacks we've seen in a long, long time with a national title. On paper, you'd call the QB battle a significant advantage for the Ducks. But Cardale Jones is a wild card in every way, and we've yet to see him fail. He has a chance to be the improbable hero and go down as a Buckeye legend. Both guys put so much stress on opposing defenses, but the pressure on these passers will be exceptional, as well.
3. Who gets stops? In the end, this one is the key. These are not top-25 scoring defenses. Three-and-outs and turnovers are more valuable than ever with these teams on this stage. The Ducks have the best turnover margin (plus-20) in college football. Their lone loss, to Arizona, came when they couldn't get their defense off the field in the second half. Their defensive growth in the three months since has been impressive. Ohio State is playing its best defense right now, too, and especially up front. It's a showdown of two of the nation's best offensive coordinators, but which DC will have the right answers?