MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Early on in Alabama’s 52-24 win over Ohio State in Monday night’s national title game felt like the Buckeyes were simply hanging from the edge of the Crimson Tide’s inevitability while Nick Saban’s squad peeled back one blood-drained OSU finger at a time as Ohio State’s grip loosened and Alabama’s gravity tightened.
Ohio State had every intention of ending a difficult 2020 season with a victory, but Alabama never got the memo as the Crimson Tide’s relentless offensive attack proved too much for a short-handed Buckeye defense that had replaced so many parts during the season, but had no fixes for the Crimson Tide.
Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith had 12 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns at the half. He was injured early in the second half, ending his day with several records along the way, and was also named the offensive player of the game.
What was expected to be a high-scoring affair took a left turn when Buckeye running back Trey Sermon suffered an injury on OSU’s first play of the game, sending one of the nation’s hottest players to the sideline for good.
Ohio State did what they could and stayed in it for most of the first half until everything went awry. Trailing 14-7 and with Alabama in possession of the ball in the second quarter, Tide quarterback Mac Jones was sacked by linebacker Baron Browning who forced and recovered a fumble inside the red zone. Two plays later, running back Master Teague scored his second touchdown of the game, this time from four yards out, tying the game at 14-14 with 11:43 remaining in the second quarter.
Five plays and 75 yards later, Alabama made it 21-14 when Jones found running back Najee Harris for a 26-yard catch and run. Ohio State responded with a 23-yard field goal from freshman Jake Seibert, making it 21-17 with 5:21 to play.
Then, sandwiching an OSU 3-and-out, Alabama went five plays for 75 yards and three plays for 60 yards, with both drives ending in touchdowns, giving the Tide a 35-17 lead at the half. The final touchdown of the half featured DeVonta Smith getting unfairly matched up on linebacker Tuf Borland for a 42-yard touchdown strike.
Alabama opened the second half with the ball and was held to a field goal. They burned over seven minutes off the clock, however. The Buckeyes responded quickly as Justin Fields connected with Garrett Wilson for 17 yards, then Fields kept it for 33 yards down to the 20-yard line. Wilson capped the three-play drive with a 20-yard touchdown reception in the left corner of the end zone to make it 38-24 with 6:45 to play in the third quarter.
The score then went to 45-24 when Alabama again went 75 yards for a touchdown against a mostly helpless Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes responded on their next drive by Master Teague getting stuffed on fourth-and-1 at the OSU 43-yard line. The Tide quickly made it 52-24 early in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard Najee Harris touchdown.
Alabama out-yardaged the Buckeyes 621-341. Buckeye quarterback Justin Fields completed 17-of-33 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 67 yards in what will likely be his last game in an Ohio State uniform.
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones threw for 464 yards and five touchdowns, completing 36-of-45 attempts. He was nearly flawless, and any flaws he did have were covered up remarkably well by his teammates.