The Ducks turned to the ground, where they would ultimately average more than 7 yards a carry, for their first two plays, seizing a dozen yards and all but extinguishing the menace of a safety. Anthony Brown, the senior quarterback from Cliffwood, N.J., fired a pass to Devon Williams, a receiver standing nearly six and a half feet tall, for 19 yards. Travis Dye, a tailback who had carried the ball so efficiently on the drive’s opening plays, caught a throw for 10 more yards.
The Ducks’ largely unchecked rampage continued — on the 10-play drive, just one snap would prove fruitless for Oregon — before CJ Verdell scampered past the goal line.
Ohio State quickly stitched together five plays for 70 yards and a tied game with 8:42 to play in the first half. From there, though, the game became an exercise in trying to determine when Ohio State had met its end.
At one point, it seemed to come with about four minutes to play in the third quarter. Ohio State had maneuvered 67 yards down the field and confronted fourth down with just a pair of yards to go. The goal line was 8 yards away, and Oregon already led by 14.
Day paced the sideline as he gripped his collection of plays with his left hand. Stroud took the snap, backpedaled, dodged a defender and hurled the ball toward the end zone and Chris Olave, the wide receiver who had just gained 13 yards for the Buckeyes but had been just short of the first-down marker.
Incomplete. Turned over on downs.
But Ohio State did not quite fade away. On its very next offensive snap, after an Oregon drive that concluded with a punt, Stroud summoned a 29-yard pass to Jaxon Smith-Njigba. About two minutes later, the Buckeyes were in the end zone and within a touchdown of the Ducks.
The end might have come with less than three minutes to go, when Stroud, with Ohio State on the verge of Oregon territory, threw an interception that set up 150 seconds of clock erosion by the Ducks.