Despite a challenging season where teams and schedules were hampered continuously by COVID-19, the College Football Playoff Championship will be determined on Monday when the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0) will take on the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0). This game will take place at the Hard Rock Stadium in Florida, with kickoff scheduled for 8:00 pm ET.
Ohio State certainly played like they had a chip on their shoulder when they beat the No. 2 Clemson Tigers 49-28 in the Sugar Bowl. After Clemson coach Dabo Swinney ranked them 11th, the Buckeyes showed just how talented they are. Justin Fields threw for 385 yards and six touchdowns, while Trey Sermon rushed for 193 yards and a touchdown.
As the No. 1 team in the nation, Alabama made quick work of No. 4 Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl. The final score, 31-14, was not indicative of the game as the Irish never really seemed like a threat throughout. In the win, Mac Jones threw for 297 yards and four touchdowns.
Alabama comes in as the overwhelming favorite. They are currently -300 to win while the Buckeyes’ moneyline sits at +235. The spread features Ohio State +8.5 while the over/under is 75.5.
By The Numbers
Offensively, these are two of the best teams in football. Alabama ranks 2nd in points per game, averaging 48.2 points. Ohio State comes in just one spot behind at 3rd, averaging 43.4 points per game.
Defensively, it is Alabama who once again holds the edge. They rank 13th in the nation in scoring defense allowing opponents 19 points per game. The Buckeyes rank 29th allowing 22 points per game.
Ohio State Looks To Upset Alabama Behind Fields
After playing only five games during the regular season, there was some question as to whether the Buckeyes would even be able to play in the Big Ten championship, let alone the national championship. However, after the conference adjusted the rules, Ohio State has shown their dominance in back-to-back games over Northwestern and Clemson.
Leading the way for the Buckeyes is quarterback Justin Fields. Despite limited games, he has thrown for 1,906 yards, 21 touchdowns, and just six interceptions. He also rushed 75 times for 316 yards and another five touchdowns.
In the backfield, senior running back Trey Sermon has really peaked at the end of the season. After Master Teague III was knocked out in the Big Ten championship, Sermon rushed for 331 yards.
He followed up a couple of weeks later with 193 against Clemson. The Buckeyes will look to alleviate some of the pressure on Fields by getting him going early in this one.
Crimson Tide Out To Prove They Are The Best
Alabama has arguably been the best team in the country all season long, and they have no intentions of letting the Buckeyes ruin that in the championship game.
Leading the way under center for Alabama is Mac Jones. On the season, Jones has thrown for 4,036 yards, 36 touchdowns, and just four interceptions.
His best wide receiver is now also a Heisman Trophy winner. DeVonta Smith won the prestigious award after a season where he has had 105 receptions, 1,641 yards, and 20 touchdowns. John Metchie III has also had a successful season with 835 yards and six scores.
The Crimson Tide is led by Najee Harris, who has 1,387 yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground this season. He also has 346 yards in receiving yards and another three scores.
Taking Ohio State And The Points
In general, it is tough to bet against Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. In the end, I still like them to win overall, but the 8.5-point spread is the interesting angle on this game.
In four bowl championship games, they have yet to cover the spread. Even last weekend, thanks to a garbage-time touchdown by Notre Dame, Alabama once again was unable to cover.
Furthermore, after a season that saw them get limited play in due to cancellations, Ohio State showed they were the real deal against a tough Clemson team. While I don’t expect Alabama to take them lightly, Ohio State has plenty of weapons to make this interesting.
Ultimately, I like Alabama to take this one outright, but I will take the Buckeyes and the 8.5 points.