We’ve done it! We’ve made it to the championship. After weeks of cautious excitement, the college football season is finally coming to a close with the championship matchup between Alabama and Ohio State. While it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, this contest between two CFB powerhouses is to be viewed by fans, analysts, scouts, and a handful of NFL coaches. This game will feature the best the nation has to offer, so what exactly should you expect tonight?
Firstly, let’s talk about Alabama. The undefeated Crimson Tide has made quick work of nearly all their opponents this year. Quarterback Mac Jones has transformed from an overwhelmed stand-in for Tua Tagovailoa to a refined pocket passer. Devonta Smith and Najee Harris are not the sole reason for Bama’s offensive explosion, but the receiver and running back have definitely been on fire! Smith, coming off his Heisman victory, is looking to chop up the Buckeyes like he’s done to every other team this season. Smith has logged 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns, a nation-wide best in both categories. The man in the backfield: Najee Harris has gradually improved on a year-to-year basis, but this season he exploded for 1,733 yards and 27 touchdowns. The defensive side of the ball is weaker, but not a unit to write off. Cornerback Patrick Surtain has earned some well-deserved praise this season as a top-2 defensive back in the nation, while defensive lineman Christian Barmore has emerged as a top prospect in the 2021 draft.
While we all know about Alabama, their opponents are much more enigmatic. Ohio State boasted a 6-0 record before facing-off against Clemson in the playoffs. The Buckeyes made quick work of a weakened Big-Ten conference before moving on to face the Tigers, much to the chagrin of teams like Texas A&M. Unimpressive performances against Northwestern and Indiana tarnished Quarterback Justin Fields’ reputation, as he was criticized heavily in the ensuing weeks. However, Ohio State would pick up the pace against Clemson, routing future number one pick Trevor Lawrence. Fields would toss for 385 yards and six TDs, completing 78% of his passes. Running back Trey Sermon also went to work, with 254 yards and a touchdown. While Bama is the talk of the town, Ohio State is a worthy opponent. Dual-threat QB Justin Fields proved that he can win on a big stage, and wide receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson continue to assist him in big moments. My personal favorite player on Ohio State’s team is running back Master Teague, a powerful runner with subtle speed. Ohio State’s defense is their primary concern, as they have played inconsistent this season. It will be difficult to find an answer for all of Bama’s weapons. However, if Shaun Wade can lock down Devonta Smith and the defensive line can hold Najee Harris to only modest gains, the Buckeyes can answer with offensive attacks of their own.
The consensus seems to be that Alabama will cruise to an easy win, but I believe that undermines the talent on Ohio State’s team. While it will be back and forth, for the most part, I believe Alabama’s offensive arsenal will be too overwhelming for the Buckeyes.