The college football season that has varied in length for every team involved comes to a conclusion Monday night in Miami Gardens, Florida, at Hard Rock Stadium. That’s where No. 1 Alabama (12-0) will take on No. 3 Ohio State (7-0) in the College Football Playoff National Championship (8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App) Presented by AT&T. The two schools have met in the CFPs before but never in the National Championship game.
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On Monday, Jan. 11th, No. 1 Alabama takes on No. 3 Ohio State in The College Football Playoff National Championship Game presented by AT&T.
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) January 3, 2021
No. 1 Alabama vs No. 3 Ohio State
Alabama and Ohio State have two of the most storied and iconic histories in all of college football and they somehow will only be meeting for the fifth time. Since the poll-era began in 1936, Alabama‘s 12 championships are four more than second-place Notre Dame. Ohio State sits fifth on the list with six-titles.
A big reason Alabama is so far ahead historically is because of their most recent success. The Crimson Tide have dominated the sport over the last 10 years, winning five national championships during that span. This will be Alabama’s fifth appearance in the six years since the two-teams last met and the Crimson Tide are looking to win their third title since 2015.
There may not be many games between the schools, but four out of five of their matchups have come in a Bowl-Game or a CFP National Championship game. These teams have met on the football field exactly once in every decade since the ’70s excluding the ’00s. Alabama leads the series 3-1, with Ohio State winning their last matchup.
Alabama’s 3-0 start over Ohio State
The 1978 Sugar Bowl was the first time Alabama and Ohio State played and it was the first and only meeting between two of college football’s most iconic coaches – Bear Bryant and Woody Hayes. The Crimson Tide rolled over the Buckeyes 35-6 and finished second in the national-title polls that year.
The only time these teams did not play at the end of the season was in 1986 when Alabama beat Ohio State 16-10 in a top-10 Kickoff Classic.
The 1995 Citrus Bowl featured a 50-yard touchdown pass with 42-second left on the clock to seal Alabama’s 24-17 victory over the Buckeyes.
Last Meeting: Ohio State 42, Alabama 35 — Jan. 1, 2015 (Sugar Bowl/CFP Semifinal)
In 2015, the first year of the CFP, No. 4 Ohio State upset No. 1 Alabama, 42-35, in the Super Bowl semifinal. The Buckeyes were able to amass 281 rushing yards. Ezekiel Elliott’s back-breaking 85-yard rushing touchdown put the Buckeyes up 42-28 with a little more than three minutes to play. The Buckeyes went on to beat Oregon to earn the national title. OSU has not been back to the title game since.
No. 1 Alabama vs No. 3 Ohio State — Matchup Edge
In the 2020 college football regular season, teams were only allowed to play within their conference. The (12-0) Crimson Tide rolled through the SEC with steller play in all three phases of the game. The (7-0) Buckeyes were not always that impressive in their short season but they always seemed in control of their games and found ways to get the job done. Here’s how their numbers matchup:
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide – Key Stats
- No. 3 in points per game (48.2) this season and has only given up 19.5 points per game.
- Alabama has visited the red zone 62 times this season and they have converted 57 of those visits into scores – 48 of the 57 were touchdowns.
- No. 1 on third-down conversion percentage at (.593) on 135 attempts.
- No. 1 in passing efficiency with a rating of 198.48
No. 3 Ohio State – Key Stats
- No. 6 in points per game (43.4) this season and they are giving up 21 points per game
- No. 5 with 272.6 rushing yards per game
- No. 3 with an average of 1.29 turnover margin per game
- No. 6 third-down percentage (.500) on 92 attempts
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) January 9, 2021
No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State — How they got here
No. 1 Alabama
By playing a conference-only schedule, the Crimson Tide became the first team in SEC history to go 10-0 against conference opponents during the regular season. It was the Tide’s fifth undefeated regular season under coach Nick Saban. Alabama won each of its 10 regular-season games by 15 points or more and seven by 28 points or more.
On this date in 2007, Nick Saban became the head coach of the University of Alabama football program.
For 14 years, he has won seven SEC Championships, five national championships & has made the Crimson Tide the most respected program in college football.
Happy Nick Saban Day. pic.twitter.com/XYymGhlerA
— Stephen M. Smith (@CoachingMSmith) January 3, 2021
SEC Title Game – Alabama 52, Florida 46
Alabama’s toughest test this season was a 52-46 victory in the SEC championship game over No. 7 Florida. The Gators almost were able to overcome an 18-point deficit by scoring 29 second half points on the Tide. Alabama kept it out of reach by amounting for 605 total yards and seven-TDs and by scoring 17-points in the fourth-quarter. RB Najee Harris scored five of the Tides’ TDs and accounted for 245 total yards of offense.
CFP Semifinals – Alabama 31, Notre Dame 14
QB Mac Jones led the Crimson Tide in the rout of the Irish a week ago as he was 25-30 for 297-yards and four-TDs. Heisman winner DeVonta Smith caught seven of Jones passes for 130-yards and three-TDs. ‘Bama was in control of this game from the opening kickoff, outscoring the Irish 14-0 in the first quarter.
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) January 8, 2021
No. 3 Ohio State
With the Big Ten choosing to delay the start of the season, the Buckeyes didn’t kick off until Oct. 24. The Buckeyes also had to cancel three of their regular-season games due to the pandemic, and here they are in January with two wins over then-ranked opponents, OSU is playing for the national title. Even if the Buckeyes were beneficiaries of the flexible college football ranking-system which allowed them to get this far, they definitely deserve it based on the talent they put on the field each week.
Big Ten Title Game – Ohio State 22, Northwestern 10
The Big Ten voted on Dec. 9 to change its policy that teams needed to play six games to be eligible for the conference championship game to allow Ohio State to play for the title. Despite not having 22 players, including leading receiver Chris Olave, the Buckeyes defeated then-No. 14 Northwestern 22-10 in the Big Ten championship game to capture their fourth straight conference title.
CFP Semifinals – Ohio State 49, Clemson 28
Ohio State’s 21 unanswered second-quarter points was the difference in the upset of No. 2 Clemson. Buckeyes’ QB Justin Fields was the X-factor in the game, finishing 22 of 28 for 385-yards and six-TDs and one-INT. Fields outplayed his QB counterpart Trevor Lawrence to help send the Buckeyes back to their second CFP Title Game. RB Trey Sermon also had a huge day carrying the ball 31 times for 193-yards and one-TD. Ohio State’s win was more impressive than Alabama’s because Clemson easily defeated Notre Dame in the ACC Title Game two weeks prior.
No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State — Players to Watch
Both quarterbacks in this game, Justin Fields and Mac Jones, are two of the best QBs in college football this year. Alabama’s Mac Jones won the Davey O’Brien award for best QB this season. Justin Fields is expected to be the second-QB to go in the 2021 NFL Draft. Below you can see how the QB’s compare over their last five games.
Ohio State’s Justin Fields
Fields was the X-Factor against Clemson and he once again will need to be that to help Ohio State win the championship. Fields took a hard hit to his ribs by Clemson’s LB James Skalski, who was tossed from the game after the hit was deemed targeting. The shot left Fields slow to get up and in pain but he returned to throw a TD two plays later to Chris Olave. Will Fields be 100% by game time on Monday or will the injury linger and slow him down in any way is the biggest question entering the game.
Alabama’s DeVonta Smith
Your 2020 Heisman Trophy winner is DeVonta Smith, becoming the first receiver to win the award since Desmond Howard did in 1991. Smith’s dominance was all part of Alabama’s offensive dominance this year, as Alabama had three of the top five Heisman vote getters. Smith’s dominance seemed to outshine the rest as he amounted for 1,912 total yards and his 105-receptions for 1,641-yards and 20-receiving TDs all led college football. Ohio State’s secondary is a weak point on the team which should allow Smith to cap off his historic season with a bang.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) January 8, 2021
No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State — Key to the Game
I said it last week and I will say it again, the team that wins the battle up front will win this game. Alabama is the first team in FBS history to have a player ( Harris) with 20 rushing-TDs and another player (Smith) with 20 receiving-TDs and those guys were able to do that because of their offensive line. Ohio State’s key to stopping arguably the best offense ever in college football is to bottle up Harris at the line-of-scrimmage and to get pressure on Jones when he drops back. Similarly, Alabama will be in trouble if they cannot slow down Ohio State’s RB-Sermon or get pressure on Fields.
Ohio State does not have a good-enough secondary to win this game if they cannot get pressure on Jones and make him feel uncomfortable. So the biggest key to this game will be Ohio State’s defensive line guys like Jonathon Cooper and Tommy Togiai need to have solid days.
🏆 The Most Outstanding Offensive Line Unit 🏆
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) January 4, 2021
No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State — Betting Breakdown
|Team||Point Spread||Moneyline||Over/Under||Team Totals|
|Ohio State||-8 -110||+250||75 -110o||33½|
|Alabama||+8 -110||-300||75 -110u||41½|
No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State — Moneyline
If Fields and Buckeyes can play like they did against Clemson then they can win this game. He will need to be Super Man again and even then I do not know if it will be enough against No. 1 Alabama. It will be a game-hanger if Alabama can get WR Jaylen Waddle back from injury.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) January 8, 2021
Moneyline pick: Alabama -300
No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State — Point Spread
I definitely think this will be a close game and should be anyone’s game at the end. Expect big swings in momentum and quite a few lead changes. I like Ohio State and the points.
Spread pick: Ohio State + 8 -110
No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State — Over/Under
75-points is a lot of points but this is arguably the best offense ever in college football going up against a high powered Ohio State team. The over is hot for these two team, as the over is 4-0 in the Tide’s last Bowl Championship games and is 4-1-1 in the Buckeyes last six games overall.
Over/Under pick: Over 75 -110
No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State — Final Score
Alabama is the best team in college football this year and they should be able to prove it in the National Championship against Ohio State. The Buckeyes will make it a very interesting contest though. I just cannot pick against coach Saban in a Title game against a first time coach.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) January 9, 2021
Prediction: Alabama 41, Ohio State 38
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