DeVonta Smith was indefensible, Najee Harris was unstoppable and Mac Jones was flawless. With an equally surgical and explosive performance, Alabama conquered the National College Football Championship on Monday with a 52-24 defeat of Ohio State.
The final game of the college football season during the pandemic, a season whose development was in doubt during the summer and was fraught with disruptions in the fall, ended in the most predictable fashion: Alabama (13-0) as national champion by sixth time in the last 12 years under the tutelage of coach Nick Saban.
For Saban it was his seventh national title, breaking the tie with legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most as a college-level coach.
Ohio State (7-1) just couldn’t keep up. Justin Field, playing possibly his last game before heading to the NFL, passed for 194 yards and a touchdown. It’s hard to know for sure if Fields was at 100% after taking a hard hit to the ribs during his brilliant semi-final performance against Clemson.
On the Buckeyes’ first offense, they lost stellar running back Trey Sermon to injury in a game they needed to be on top. Facing one of the great offensives in recent history, they just couldn’t get into a rhythm. Ohio State has never allowed so many points in a bowl.
Fans can debate which has been the best team in the Saban dynasty, but none will be as memorable as this one. The Tide ended a season that was far from perfect after COVID-19 forced teams into quarantines, endless rounds of diagnostic tests and an uncertainty that was present every week with games taking place in practically empty stadiums.
Just 15,000 fans entered the 65,326-capacity Hard Rock Stadium to see Smith’s last magnificent performance of his college career.
The Heisman Trophy winner finished with 12 receptions for 215 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half in which the Crimson Tide finished with a 35-17 lead.