The 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship features the 12-0 Alabama Crimson Tide against the 7-0 Ohio State Buckeyes. Here is the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game Preview.
Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0)
Alabama stayed undefeated with their win over Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl. It was a dominating performance, which they won 31-14.
The Crimson Tide score 48.2 points per game, but their 31-point performance against the Irish was impressive, as Notre Dame allowed just 18.6 points per game this season.
Mac Jones continued his great season for Alabama in the semi-final. He made easy work of the Notre Dame defense, going 25 of 30 for 297 yards and four touchdowns. He utilitzed his top target early and often in the Rose Bowl. DeVonta Smith had seven catches for 130 yards and three touchdowns, as the Fighting Irish had no answer for him. Smith has 20 touchdown catches this season and will be a focal point of the offense once again in the National Championship Game. Between Smith and John Metchie, the Crimson Tide has two receivers who can bust the game wide open.
Najee Harris had 15 carries for 125 yards in this game for 8.3 yards per carry. He also had four catches for 30 yards. Harris was the only running back who produced a lot for the Crimson Tide against the Irish, but that is for good reason. He had several highlight plays including a huge hurdle over a Notre Dame defender, which led to a big gain. The Crimson Tide being able to throw and run the ball effectively makes their offense tough to defend.
The defense held Notre Dame to just 14 points, seven of which came after the game was already safely in Alabama’s control in the fourth quarter. Defensive back DeMarcco Hellams led the team with 12 tackles and also had a sack. Christian Harris had an interception, while Patrick Surtain Jr. and Brian Branch had a pass defended. Their defense has shown weak points this season, specifically in guarding tight ends, but they had a good gameplan against Notre Dame and executed. They only allow 19.5 points per game, so they will test the Buckeyes in the National Championshp.
Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0)
The Buckeyes were seven-point underdogs against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, but were able to pull off the upset and win 49-28. Beating Clemson moved the Buckeyes to 7-0 on the shortened season.
Ohio State averages 43.4 points per game and outdid that against a Clemson defense that allowed 17.5 points per game this season.
Justin Fields played a near-perfect game for Ohio State, even after taking a shot to the ribs that seemed to bother him. He finished the game 22 of 28 passing for 385 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. Fields also rushed for 42 yards, as he is hitting his stride right when the team needs him to. In this game, he heavily targeted Chris Olave, who finished the game with six receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Olave and Garrett Wilson, who had a great diving catch early in the game, will be a tough duo for Alabama to guard. The Crimson Tide had struggled guarding tight ends, but did so decently well against Notre Dame. Ohio State utilized the tight ends, Jeremy Ruckert and Luke Farrell, in the red zone, as they finished with three combined touchdown catches.
At running back, Trey Sermon continued his hot streak, which started with his record-breaking day in the Big Ten Championship Game. He finished the semi-final game off with 193 rushing yards and a touchdown. He added four receptions for 61 yards. With Ohio State’s offensive line on fire, Sermon is taking advantage and will be tough for Alabama to stop.
Defensively, Ohio State allowed a lot of yardage to Clemson, but only allowed 28 points. Trevor Lawrence threw for 400 yards, but was made uncomfortable by the Ohio State pressure. Cornerback Shaun Wade and linebacker Pete Werner led the team with nine tackles against the Tigers. Defensive end Jonathan Cooper had a sack and was disruptive. Cornerback Sevyn Banks had an interception and a pass defended. The Buckeye defense bent at times, but they didn’t break, which is what they will need to do against Alabama.
Ohio State was highly motivated for the Sugar Bowl, as Dabo Swinney disrespected them by ranking them 11 in his final ballot for the Coaches’ poll. The Buckeyes also sought revenge for Clemson beating them in last year’s CFP. That same motivation won’t be there in this game. Alabama is the more efficient offense this season and their defense has been a tad better than Ohio State’s this season. This will likely be a close game, but the Crimson Tide will come out on top.
Alabama Crimson Tide 41 Ohio State Buckeyes 32
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