Folks, we made it through the strangest season of college football and have arrived at the College Football National Championship. Shocking nobody, no. 1 Alabama secured a spot in the National Championship against no. 3 The Ohio State. Two programs with a history of National Championship appearances face off on Monday, January 11.
What do you need to know about this game?
The Crimson Tide finished this season 10-0 in conference play and 12-0 overall. They went to the Rose Bowl, handily took down no. 4 Notre Dame (31-14). A few days later, their star wide receiver DeVonta Smith won the Heisman Trophy, making him the fourth wide receiver to ever win the Heisman (fellow WR Heisman winners include: Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991, Notre Dame’s Tim Brown in 1987, and Nebraska’s Johnny Rodgers in 1972). Smith’s closest competition for the Heisman was Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Alabama’s Mac Jones, and Florida’s Kyle Trask, all quarterbacks.
All of this to say, Alabama probably feels pretty good about the upcoming National Championship. As if winning every game this season and having a player win the Heisman isn’t enough, Alabama had a solid season overall:
- Alabama averaged 48.17 points per game, for a total of 578 points this season
- Alabama averaged 185.7 rushing yards per game, for a total of 2228 rushing yards this season
- Alabama is 48-62 in Red Zone touchdowns
- Alabama is ranked 32 in total defense
- Alabama is ranked 13 in scoring defense
Basically, Alabama dominated this season with stats (fun fact: their opponents averaged 19 points per game, Alabama’s defense allowed 228 points this season), an undefeated record, and a few more trophies in their trophy case. What you need to know going into the National Championship is that their offense puts up productive numbers that yield points rather than punts. They have a strong defense that can most definitely shut down a touchdown attempt in the Red Zone – their opponents are 17-34 in Red Zone touchdowns – and slow down .
The Buckeyes come to the ‘Ship with a 6-0 in conference play and 7-0 overall record. The number of games they played has been a topic of discussion for weeks, this is not the forum for that discussion. Ohio State played in the Sugar Bowl against no. 2 Clemson and shocked everyone with a decisive win against the Tigers (49-28), quieting anyone who thought Ohio State should have been ranked no. 11. While the Buckeyes cannot boast a Heisman winner this season, they do have strong offensive pieces in Justin Fields (QB), Trey Sermon (RB), Master Teague III (RB), Garrett Wilson (WR) and Chris Olave (WR) who put up numbers:
- Ohio State averaged 43.4 points per game for a total of 304 points
- Ohio State average 272.6 rushing yards per game, for a total of 1908
- Ohio State is 25-39 in Red Zone touchdowns
- Ohio State is ranked 41 in total defense
- Ohio State is ranked 31 in scoring defense
Ohio State showed up this season, despite the limited number of games they played. Their offense performs extremely well and if Fields is playing at almost 100% health, they should be able to get on the board against Alabama, despite the Crimson Tide’s solid defense. However, Ohio State’s defense is going to need to have the best game of their season if they hope to stop the Crimson Tide.
For you numbers people, there are areas where Alabama looks better (points per game) and areas where Ohio State looks better (average rushing yards). The wonderful thing about the numbers is they don’t matter at this point, both teams are in the championship and have an equal shot at winning (gamblers, Alabama is obviously favored to win this game). Both teams bring efficient offenses to the table, meaning we won’t have to suffer through three hours of only field goal points.
You may be in the camp of not caring for the National Championship because once again we are graced by the Alabama Crimson Tide coached by Nick Saban. Or perhaps, you care for neither Alabama nor The Ohio State. In either case, I hope you enjoy watching The Bachelor.