By: Frank Hyden
#1 Alabama beat #4 Notre Dame 31-14 and #3 Ohio State beat #2 Clemson 49-28 to set up a showdown between the Crimson Tide and the Buckeyes on January 11th to decide the national champion. It’s hard to pick against Alabama when they’re undefeated (12-0) and have looked dominant doing it. At the same time, though, Ohio State (7-0) is also undefeated and just routed Clemson.
Not to disparage the defenses of either team, but this looks to be a shootout where the offenses explode and the game is decided by which defense can make one or two big plays. Or perhaps it’s a big special teams play? Or maybe it’s an injury that sways the outcome? I certainly hope not on that one, as I hate injuries, as does everyone else.
Mac Jones and Justin Fields are both playing really, but Jones has had the better season and is more consistent. However, Fields just threw 6 touchdowns against the Tigers and had several fantastic throws. He also has the ability to run. I still favor Jones in this matchup, though.
Devonta Smith is the standout receiver for Alabama while Chris Olave is the stud for Ohio State. There’s other good receivers on both teams but these are the top guys. Smith is likely to win the Heisman so the choice is obvious here, but both teams have good receivers up and down the roster.
Trey Sermon has been playing unbelievably well. He had 331 yards rushing against Northwestern in the Big 10 Championship and followed that up with 193 yards last night. Najee Harris is a fantastic back in his own right, and is better catching the ball, but I have to give the edge to Sermon and OSU in the run game. It’s weird to go against Harris but Sermon has been on a mission.
I think the Ohio State defense will be the better unit in the game, primarily because of that defensive line. The havoc they caused Clemson and Trevor Lawrence, especially in the second half, will be the difference. I still think Alabama’s offense goes off, but a big sack could end a drive prematurely, and maybe they could even get a strip sack?
I think this game is a big shootout, with Alabama winning 48-42. I just don’t see how the defenses are going to be able to slow down these offenses all that much. Of course, if there’s a bunch of turnovers, this could quickly turn into a rout but I don’t think that’ll happen. I’m expecting a great game.
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