A rare underfoot year in Tuscaloosa made matters worse for the rest of college football. Alabama’s absence from the College Football Playoff for the first time helped create one of Nick Saban’s most dominant teams.
Last season, Crimson lost Tide twice and finished eighth in the latest Associated Press poll. For most teams, this is a good season. For Saban, this is not acceptable.
Monday night – and his team’s performance throughout this flawless season – was more in line with what he expected.
Alabama led Ohio to the 7th National Saban Championship, beating Buckeyes, 52-24, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. In Crimson Tide’s 13 wins, only one victory came with odd numbers. They beat the opponent 630-252.
Alabama completed the perfect ninth season in the program’s history with a world-class attacking performance, producing 582 multipurpose yards and setting a College Football Playoff record with 52 points.
In the first half alone, broad recipient Heisman Trophy Devonta Smith set a record in the College Football Playoff Hunting Tournament (12) and touchdown receptions (three). In the second half, after an injury to his right hand kept him out of action, his friends did the rest.
Mac Jones, the little-known former reserve midfielder, completed 36 of 44 passes at 464 yards and five touchdowns. Nagy Harris scored three times and scored 158 gross yards. An overlooked Crimson Tide defense resulted in Justin Fields & Co. being detained in Ohio.
Crimson Tide made a strong 35-17 lead into the break and ate the first 7:13 of the second half with more old Alabama lead, methodically moving the ball down the field despite Smith leaving the field after the second playing possession.
Ohio responded by going 75 yards in three plays where the fields look more like the player who broke up Clemson, snapped 33 yards on a goalkeeper and hit Garrett Wilson with a 20-yard score. Not generating any momentum, and not with Buckeyes’ defense unable to mount any resistance.
Alabama went down the field despite Smith’s absence to push the lead to three touchdowns with Jones Slade finding Bolden from 5 yards.
Predicting penalties was between two of the top five scoring offenses in the target early on. The game’s first eight engines resulted in five touchdowns. Both defenses appear to be identical.
While Buckeyes was doing most of the damage they got on the ground – Master Teague III scored twice for them in the first half at 4 and 8 yards – Alabama was chiseling out at Ohio State High School. Jones threw four goals in the first half, three to Smith, and completed 25 of 30 passes for 342 yards.
Momentum shifted when Ohio had to settle on a field goal in the middle of the second quarter after a few off-target throws from fields in the red.
It was the shaky opening half for Fields, who completed only 6 of 15 passes at 90 yards. He seemed hesitant and nervous, losing open goals, and only using his feet on occasions. That didn’t help Trey Sermon start sprinting in the first match due to a collar injury. Crimson Tide began to pile up Fields in the second quarter, speeding up the throws.
After just 3:31 after the Ohio field goal, the Alabama team went from three to 17. Smith got back-to-back hits, the second being a 42-yard pick up on a touch-up pattern where he was somehow matched with slow-footed midfielder Tove Borland.
By that point, Smith had set many records. The first half is not over yet, and it does not matter. Alabama was on his way to another championship. It was an imposed result.