Tide rolls past Buckeyes

By Jim Naveau - Aim Media Midwest

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The only thing that stopped Devonta Smith all night was a dislocated finger. And even that wasn’t enough to stop Alabama from rolling to a 52-24 win over Ohio State in the College Football Playoff national championship game on Monday night.

Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner, caught 12 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns in the first half when Alabama jumped out to a 35-17 lead.

He was injured early in the third quarter and missed the rest of the game. But it made no difference for Alabama, which won its sixth national championship in the last 12 years.

Mac Jones passed for 464 yards and five touchdowns for the Crimson Tide, which outgained Ohio State 621 yards to 341 yards. Smith’s first half stats were his final stats, and running back Najee Harris ran for 79 yards and two touchdowns and caught seven passes, including a touchdown catch.

Alabama (13-0) reaffirmed what many people believed all season — that it was the best team in college football. And not by just a little.

“I’m proud of our team and our seniors. But that was a tough night,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “You’ve got to give credit to Alabama. They’re certainly a very good team and they played very well tonight. We needed to play our best game tonight against Alabama and we didn’t.”

Ohio State (7-1) went into the game with quarterback Justin Fields feeling less than 100 percent after suffering a rib injury in a playoff semifinal win over Clemson and without its best defensive lineman, Tommy Togiai, who was listed as unavailable.

Things got worse when No. 1 running back Trey Sermon, who had gained 636 yards in OSU’s last three games, was injured on his first carry and did not play the rest of the game.

Fields and Day both said OSU’s junior quarterback, who expected to declare for the NFL draft, was less than 100 percent. He completed 17 of 33 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 67 yards on six carries.

“Justin is as competitively tough a player as I’ve been around. For him to go out there and play today really shows his toughness and how much he loves his brothers. He was not 100 percent tonight,” Day said. “He was working through it and made some really good throws, made some gutsy plays, kept us in the game there for a while. He’s an unbelievable player, and I’m going to miss him.”

Fields said, “At the end of the day I’m glad I was able to play. Of course, I could have been healthier, but I was healthy enough. I was able to be out there.”

Alabama went up 7-0 on its first possession on a 1-yard touchdown run by Harris at the end of a 12-play, 78-yard drive.

OSU answered with an 8-yard touchdown run by Master Teague to finish off an 8-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game 7-7.

Alabama regained the lead on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Smith on the first play of the second quarter to make it 14-7.

After Baron Browning sacked Jones, forced a fumble and recovered it at Alabama’s 19-yard line, a pass interference penalty and a 4-yard run by Teague produced a touchdown that tied the game at 14-14 with 11:54 left in the first half.

But the rest of the first half belonged to Alabama, which outscored Ohio State 21-3 in the final nine minutes of the second quarter.

A 26-yard Jones to Harris pass made it 21-14. After a 23-yard field goal by Jake Seibert, Jones and Smith combined for the Heisman Trophy winner’s second and third touchdowns of the first half to put Alabama in front 35-17 at halftime.

OSU cut the lead to 38-24 with 6:45 left in the third quarter on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Fields to Garrett Wilson, but that was the end of the Buckeyes’ scoring.

“There were just obviously way too many big plays (given up by OSU’s defense), and then on offense we couldn’t go score for score with them, and then the game gets out of hand,” Day said. “That was probably one of the better offenses in college football in a long time.”

Cornerback Shaun Wade said, “They just came out and outplayed us tonight.”

By Jim Naveau

Aim Media Midwest