Ohio State University pulled off a dominant 42-20 upset over Oregon University in the first College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
In preparation for the game, Ohio State coaches realised their team needed to be quicker to beat Oregon’s high-speed offensive attack.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Ohio State coaches told the team, particularly the defensive linemen, to try to drop about five pounds in 10 days.
Ohio State’s defensive line coach Larry Johnson knew that the Buckeyes were “not playing a power team, we’re playing a finesse team,” so dropping extra weight made sense.
The diet: eating less and running more.
Some of the linemen, who were preparing for an Oregon offence that was averaging 22 seconds between plays, dropped sweets entirely, including the snacks like Reeses peanut butter cups and Snickers bars that Johnson keeps in his office.
According to the Columbia Daily Tribune, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer had his team practice against a stopwatch after seeing Oregon average 16 seconds between plays against a tired Florida State team two weeks ago.
Meyer said it was, “defeating the demon, the demon that takes place when fatigue takes over, and that’s real.”
Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa said after watching the Oregon-Florida State game, “The D-line wasn’t really playing hard at all, and that showed us we really needed to get in shape for this game.”
The diet created a psychological hunger, too. Dropping five pounds could have made a physical difference, but as Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell noted to the WSJ, “You’re not going to get in better shape in 10 days. But you lose a couple of pounds, you think: ‘I’m leaner, I’m lighter, I’m faster.'”
And Ohio State’s defence was impressive. Even with Oregon picking up its pace more than usual — they averaged 19 seconds in between plays, as opposed to 22 — they only managed 465 total yards, compared to their season average. Oregon also only went 2-12 on third downs, despite a season average 52% completion rate.