Remember when everyone was telling us that the college football season could never happen?
Remember when the Big Ten cancelled the season and said the decision “would not be revisited?” Remember when the sports media called the decision to play football “the darkest day in Big Ten history?”
Well, we have reached the National Championship Game, and it should be a dandy. Before I get into previewing the game, I want to acknowledge and thank the players, coaches, administrators, medical and training staffs, and everyone else involved with making this season happen. I don’t think it’s talked about enough, but the sacrifices those individuals have made this season are remarkable, and they deserve to be recognized. The Big Ten was an organizational disaster, and their leadership deserves to be questioned for how the handled it all, but we made it, and tonight is the culmination of a season unlike any other.
The sports media’s constant pessimism is truly astounding.
But alas, the title game is tonight, and I cannot wait to watch. 12-0 Alabama squares off against 7-0 Ohio State from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, and it should be a helluva game. Here are my gambling picks for both the total and the spread:
Sure this is a massive number, but both offenses have the capabilities to make this total very attainable. Alabama’s offense is putting up 48.2 points per game, and Ohio State is putting up 43.4 points per game.
This total of 75 is by far and away the largest total we have seen in the Championship Game under the CFP format, with the second-highest being the very first CFP Championship Game back in 2014-15. The total for that game was 72.5, and stayed well under that mark with a 42-20 Ohio State win.
Since that game, the Over has hit in five straight title games, and every title game that Alabama has been in under the CFP format has gone Over.
Both teams bring elite QB’s, strong offensive lines, and electric skill position players that can make plays all over the field. The Tide offense consisting of Mac Jones, Najee Harris, and Heisman winner DeVonta Smith is about as unstoppable as it gets, and WR Jaylen Waddle could even make an appearance in tonight’s game. Waddle fractured his ankle on Oct. 24 against Tennessee, and has missed seven games in a row since then. Nick Saban said he has “been able to practice in some degree,” and that he will be a game-time decision. If he is able to play, it will certainly give the Ohio State defense one more weapon to worry about, but even if he doesn’t, the Tide offense has shown that they are more than capable of still lighting up the scoreboard.
In addition, I think John Metchie III could have a big game tonight. Obviously DeVonta Smith is going to draw a lot of attention, and I think that could open up things for Metchie to see some big plays. He had just 3 catches for 53 yards in the semifinal game against Notre Dame, but I think he is poised for a bigger night tonight.
Ohio State was able to limit Clemson to just 44 rushing yards, but I think this Alabama offensive line will be more physical, and I think Najee Harris will be an issue both running the ball, and catching passes out of the backfield.
The Tide put up just 31 points against Notre Dame, but it really seemed like they put things on cruise control in the second half, scoring just 10 points in the final 30 minutes of action. Perhaps they didn’t want to tip their hand too much, and wanted to keep things a little more conservative than normal with the game already in hand.
That semifinal game between Alabama and Notre Dame stayed well under the total of 66, as just 45 total points were scored. I think a large part of that is because Notre Dame plays a relatively boring style of football on offense. They wanted to run the ball, control time of possession, and they did exactly that. The Irish won time of possession considerably, 33:43-26:17, but it didn’t even matter. The Irish couldn’t put up points at the end of drives, and the Tide were still able to find the end zone extremely fast. I think they will be able to do so again tonight.
Contrary to Notre Dame’s offense, Ohio State’s offense is more than capable of hanging with the Tide.
Justin Fields had the game of his life against Clemson, throwing for 385 yards and 6 touchdowns en route to a 49-28 beatdown of the Tigers.
The game was never really close, and I think Ohio State will be able to keep that momentum going in this one.
Trey Sermon has emerged as a total beast running the ball, and he really helps provide some balance to a passing attack that consistency found the deep ball against Clemson. Chris Olave on the outside is going to be a problem, and the Buckeyes have some younger talent at both receiver and tight end that can balance things out.
Overall, Fields does a good job of spreading the ball around, and as long as he doesn’t hold on to the ball too long and force some bad throws, I think Ohio State can more than hold their own offensively against the Tide.
Give me the Over.
Ohio State +8.5
Ohio State is not to be taken lightly.
The Buckeyes dominated Clemson in the semifinal, and Justin Fields had the game of his life. Their defense played great against Trevor Lawrence, and held Clemson to just 44 rushing yards.
I think the biggest factor in taking Ohio State +8.5 is Justin Fields and his downfield passing abilities against an Alabama defense that has been vulnerable against the pass.
This season, the Alabama defense dominated teams like Tennessee, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Auburn, holding all of those teams to less than 20 points. They didn’t even allow Kentucky, Arkansas, or Mississippi State to find the end zone. What do all of those teams have in common? They struggled throwing the ball all season.
On the other hand, the Alabama defense struggled against Ole Miss and Florida, two teams that thrive at throwing the ball. The Rebels put up 365 passing yards and 48 points against the Tide, while the Gators put up 408 passing yards and 46 points. Justin Fields and this Ohio State offense is more than capable of airing things out downfield, which I think will be a problem for Alabama.
Not only that, but Trey Sermon gashed both Northwestern and Clemson on the ground, and he can pick up big chunks of yards anytime he touches the ball.
In addition, one aspect of this game that I think gives Ohio State an advantage is Mac Jones’ lack of mobility. Last year in the semifinal game, Trevor Lawrence beat Ohio State with his legs. He ran the ball 16 times for 107 yards and a touchdown. Ohio State was not prepared for it, and it burned them. However, this time around, they did not let Lawrence run at all. He had -8 rushing yards on 10 carries, and it really limited what Clemson wanted to do.
In this game, the Buckeyes don’t even have to worry about the opposing quarterbacks mobility, because not only is Mac Jones not going to be the beneficiary of any designed runs, but he does not even possess much of a scrambling ability. Jones has just 3 rushing yards on the entire season.
I think that gives Ohio State one less thing to worry about with this Alabama offense, and I think that could benefit the Buckeye defense.
I think this is going to be a great game, and I am taking Ohio State +8.5 and the Over.
Title Photo: @HardRockStadium on Twitter