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Oregon Football Fans Are Confident Their Team Will Beat Ohio State

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Time for trash talking ahead of tonight's big game between Oregon and Ohio State. It's the first championship game in college football's new playoff system, and our reporters on this story are totally biased. NPR's Tom Goldman goes first.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: That's Tom Goldman, University of Oregon, class of 1979. Hit it.

(SOUNDBITE OF OREGON MARCHING BAND SONG, "MIGHTY OREGON")

GOLDMAN: I drove to the U of O campus in Eugene last week where hotel and restaurant marquees proclaimed, Ducks Beat Bucks and Bring Home The Championship. On my mind - one question. Why will Oregon beat Ohio State?

DON PELLUM: You said that. I didn't

GOLDMAN: Of course I did, but I understood why Oregon defensive coordinator Don Pellum wouldn't give the Buckeyes any bulletin board material. Maybe linebacker Tony Washington would.

GOLDMAN: As good as they are, why will you beat them?

TONY WASHINGTON: I'll tell you that after the game (laughter).

GOLDMAN: Obviously these Ducks were as adept at tap dancing through interviews as executing their warp-speed style of football. So I headed to the campus bookstore, now called The Duck Store, searching for a better answer to why will Oregon win. I got it from freshman Mercedes Mingus.

MERCEDES MINGUS: 'Cause we're better. We have more weapons.

GOLDMAN: Ain't that the truth? Oregon's first ever Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Marcus Mariota, leads the third-ranked offense in the nation, which averages a whopping 553 yards a game. The defense showed its grit in the playoff semifinal trouncing of defending champion Florida State. So the defense ranks 84th nationally compared to 17th for Ohio State. As Mingus points out, there are other obvious advantages to Oregon.

MINGUS: It's so beautiful. Do you see how many beautiful, green trees are here? I can't imagine living somewhere that's brown and smoggy. Oh, God, no. I don't want to be in Columbus. I'd be in Eugene any day over Columbus.

GOLDMAN: Great trees, great movies.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANIMAL HOUSE")

JOHN BELUSHI: (As John Blutarsky) Food fight.

GOLDMAN: The greatest college movie, "Animal House," was filmed at the U of O. And then Oregon's got that great, little mascot that inspires its fans, fans like 72-year-old Barbara Arvinitas.

(SOUNDBITE OF DUCK QUACKING)

BARBARA ARVINITAS: Everybody quacks.

GOLDMAN: Not at Ohio State where the mascot is a nut - seriously? To be fair, which none of this is, there's another side to the story in Columbus, where reporter Karen Kasler went to grad school. OK, Karen, bring it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.