This shifted an even greater burden on the shoulders of Fields, who needed a sedative injection to be able to play with a stiff blow – a helmet in the hind ribs – in the semi-final victory over Clemson. The injury turned Fields, a talented physical runner, into a pocket lane, depriving Team Buckeyes of yet another element in their attack.
Buckeyes, perhaps more than any other team in the country, was no stranger to the turmoil. Three matches were canceled, and they played only eight, and Monday was the fourth game in a row in which they lost at least ten players.
Ohio got stuck with Alabama for a while – thanks in part to some generosity from Crimson Tide. Jones flopped his 19-yard streak to create a single landing, Jordan Patel kept the drive alive with a helmet-to-helmet hit for which he was ejected, and Patrick Sirten II dropped an interception in the finish zone, which was followed by a field goal.
Ultimately, however, Ohio was simply overshadowed by Alabama crime.
The tides flashed every element of her arsenal – an upward attack line that gave Harris room, back 6 feet 2, 229 pounds by the feet of the ballerina, and time for Jones, who dissected the Ohio State defense as was a biology lab frog. Often, Jones, who threw 464 yards and five touchdowns, put the ball in Smith’s hand, the sleek, slippery receiver with the hand of a Venus flytrap.
Making it all sing was Attacking Co-ordinator Steve Sarkissian, the new coach in Texas who fooled the Ohio State defense hoping to bend but not break, but didn’t achieve either.
Harris, who sped into the finish zone fourth down from the 1-yard streak, later squaded into the flat exposed in the face of a lightning attack and turned a pass from Jones into a landing putting Alabama ahead forever, 21-14, with nine minutes remaining in the quarter. The second.
Sarkissian pulled off a cool trick near the goal line: Smith lost in a reverse move from the smart move. This allowed Smith to have short passes that turned into touchdowns by overpowering the defenders. Alabama ended his sneak attack in the second quarter in an almost comedic manner: Smith lined up against center back Tove Borland, who looked as if he was running into the sand as he chased Smith in a downward pass from 42 yards.
The play was a lot like the rest of the night: a mismatch.