The No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0) and the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0) will meet in the College Football National Championship at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. Ohio State advanced to this point with a 49-28 win against Clemson in the semifinals, and Alabama defeated Notre Dame 31-14. According to the College Football Power Index, Alabama has faced the 14th toughest schedule, and Ohio State has faced the 41st toughest schedule in the country this season.
The Buckeyes and Crimson Tide last met in the 2014-15 National Semifinals, and the Buckeyes won 42-35. Ohio State would go on to defeat Oregon 42-20 for the national championship that season. Alabama will be making its fifth appearance in the College Football Playoffs National Champion game, which has been in place since the 2014 season. Alabama ended the 2015 and 2017 seasons as national champions. In 2016 and 2018, Alabama was the national runner-up to Clemson.
(Late line movements and injury reports were updated on Monday morning.)
The line has moved slightly toward Alabama for this contest as the week has gone on. Alabama opened as a 7.5-point favorite when the lines came out and, as of Monday morning, now stands as an eight, 8.5 or nine-point favorite at the majority of sportsbooks for this contest. 52 percent of the bets ATS are backing the Crimson Tide giving the points as they look to earn the victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
The total for this contest has moved down slightly during this week. After opening at 76.5 points, the total has moved down to 74.5 or 75 points at the majority of sportsbooks. A slim majority, 51 percent, of the bets on the total for this contest are backing this one staying under the number.
Game-time Weather: It’s going to be a warm evening in the Sunshine State for this contest. At kickoff, the temperature is expected to be in the low-70s under cloudy skies. The mercury will hit fall into the high-60s during the game with the clouds remaining in the sky. There is no chance of precipitation in the forecast. Winds are expected from the east-southeast around six miles an hour with the wind gusts kicking up to about eight miles per hour during the game.
Buckeyes Shock the TigersIn an unusual season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ohio State Buckeyes managed to qualify for the College Football Playoff despite only playing six regular-season games, compared to Clemson, Notre Dame, and Alabama who all played 11 games. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney ranked Ohio State No. 11 in his final coaches poll. When questioned by ESPN, Swinney stated " I wanted to recognize the teams that played nine games or more. And so, if you didn't play nine games, I just didn't consider you from the top 10. That's why they were 11.” The Buckeyes proved that there were definitely worthy of their position last Saturday when they stuck it to Dabo's team, outgaining Clemson 639 to 444 in total yards on their way to a 49-28 victory.
Buckeye's quarterback Justin Fields had the game of his career against the Tigers, completing 22 of 28 passes for 385 yards with six touchdowns and one interception. Fields also ran the ball eight times for 42 yards. The Buckeyes rushing game had another strong performance picking up 254 yards on 44 carries, led by Trey Sermon, who ran for 193 yards on 31 carries with a touchdown. It was Sermon's third consecutive game going over 100 yards. Sermon also had a massive performance with 331 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns in the Big Ten championship on December 19.
The Buckeyes have been the most prolific offense in the Big Ten, ranking fourth in the nation, averaging 544.9 yards per game and fifth with 43.4 points per game this season. The Ohio State offense is about as evenly balanced as they come. The rushing attack ranks fifth in the nation averaging 272.6 yards per game, and the passing game is 31st with 272.3 yards per game. Fields have completed 73.4% of his passes this season with 21 touchdowns, six interceptions, and 1,906 yards. Fields have also rushed for 316 yards on 4.2 yards per attempt and six touchdowns.
Defensively Ohio State was fifth in the Big Ten, allowing 21 points and 358 total yards per game. The Buckeyes are 116th in the nation, allowing 280.7 passing yards per game, but rank second in the nation, holding opponents to 89.1 yards on the ground. Ohio State turned Clemson into a one-dimensional offense in the semifinals, holding the Tigers to just 44 rushing yards on 22 attempts. Trevor Lawerence completed 33 of 48 passes for 400 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The Buckeyes did sack Lawerence twice and caused him to fumble three times in the game, recovering one.
Ohio State Injury Report:
OUT: CB Cameron Brown, DL Jacolbe Cowan, TE Patrick Gurd, WR Jaylen Harris, LB Cade Kacherski, LS Roen McCullough, DT Jaden McKenzie, WR Alec Taylor, QB Daniel Vanatsky, S Kourt Williams
Questionable: WR Mookie Cooper, DL Aaron Cox, LB Tommy Eichenberg, DE Tyler Friday, DT Haskell Garrett, OL Paris Johnson Jr., QB Jagger LaRoe, CB Lloyd McFarquhar, QB Jack Miller III, TE Joe Royer, LB Ben Schmiesing, OL Ryan Smith, RB Master Teague III
Alabama too much for Notre DameThe No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide are 12-0 and headed to their fifth national championship game in six years. Last season was the only year since the four-team College Football Playoff begun that the Crimson Tide did not qualify for it.
The Tide made the Notre Dame Fighting Irish easy work in the opening semifinal game with a 31-14 win as a 20 point favorite. Alabama outgained Notre Dame 437 to 375 in total yardage. The Tide did not commit any turnovers but intercepted Ian Book once. Alabama rushed for 140 yards on 25 attempts, and quarterback Mac Jones completed 25 of his 30passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns. Jones has completed 77% of his passes for 4,036 yards with 36 touchdowns and four interceptions on the season. Najee Harris led the Tide's rushing attack with 125 yards on 15 attempts against Notre Dame. Harris has picked up 1,387 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns on 6.1 yards per carry on the season.
Alabama is the highest-scoring team in the country among teams that have played at least five games this season, averaging 48.2 points per game and fifth with 349.3 passing yards per game. The Tide was fourth in the SEC with 185.7 rushing yards per game. The 19.9 points per game allowed this season by Alabama;'s defense is best in the conference. The Tide's rushing defense is 12th in the nation, allowing 110.2 yards per game, while the pass defense is 81st in the nation allowing 242.9 yards per game.
Alabama Injury Report:
OUT: OL Landon Dickerson, RB Trey Sanders
Questionable: DL LaBryan Ray, WR Jaylen Waddle
- Alabama is 0-4 ATS in their last 4 Bowl Championship games.
- Ohio State is 21-8 ATS in their last 29 games as an underdog
- Ohio State is 6-2 ATS in their last 8 bowl games