January 4, 2021

🏈 CFP Championship Game Preview: Ohio State vs. Alabama

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Ohio State and Alabama meet in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship game Monday, Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Kickoff is set for 8:15 p.m. (EST) on ESPN.

Ohio State is 7-0 overall and is coming off a CFP semifinal win over Clemson, 49-28, Jan. 1 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Alabama is 12-0 and fresh off a 31-14 victory over Notre Dame in the CFP semifinal at the Rose Bowl, a game that was played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

THE BASICS


#3 Ohio State vs. #1 Alabama • Mon., Jan. 11 • When: 8:00 p.m. • Where: Hard Rock Stadium • TV: ESPN • Radio: 97.1 The Fan • Audio Stream: OhioStateBuckeyes.com


 

QUICK HITTERS

  • Ohio State and Alabama are meeting for the fourth time in a series of nothing but neutral field games (but that will change; see below). Alabama leads the series, 3-1, with wins in the Kickoff Classic at the Meadowlands (35-6 in 1978 and 16-10 in 1986) and in the Florida Citrus Bowl in 1995 (24-17). Ohio State’s win came in the 2015 CFP semifinals at the Allstate Sugar Bowl, 42-35.
  • Ohio State is 3-2 all-time in its four CFP appearances (2015, 2017, 2019, 2021). Alabama is 7-3 in the CFP and has been in six of the seven playoffs.
  • Ohio State won the initial CFP in 2014-15, defeating No. 1 Alabama, 42-35, in the Allstate Sugar Bowl and No. 2 Oregon, 42-20, in the championship game at AT&T Stadium. It was the school’s eighth national championship.
    • Ohio State is seeking national championship No. 9 in this, its 131st season of football: 2014 CFP – 14-1 (Urban Meyer) // 2002 BCS – 14-0 (Jim Tressel) // 1970 NFF – 9-1 (Woody Hayes) // 1968 AP – 10-0 (Woody Hayes) // 1961 FWAA – 8-0-1 (Woody Hayes) // 1957 Coaches/FWAA – 9-1 (Woody Hayes) // 1954 AP – 10-0 (Woody Hayes) // 1942 AP – 9-1 (Paul Brown)
  • Ohio State head coach Ryan Day has guided the program into consecutive CFP appearances for the first time in school history. The Buckeyes are 23-1 overall under Day, including a 10-1 record against AP Top 25 ranked teams and a 5-1 mark vs. Top 10 teams.

NOTES TO KNOW

A SETUP FOR A SHOOTOUT?

  • Ohio State is 4th nationally in total offense (544.9) while Alabama is 6th (535.0)
  • Alabama is 32nd in total defense (353.2) while Ohio State is 41st (370.3)
  • Alabama is second in scoring (48.2) while Ohio State is 5th (43.4)
  • Alabama is 13th in scoring defense (19.0) while Ohio State is 31st (22.0)

TALKIN’ TURNOVERS

  • Both Ohio State and Alabama are opportunistic in the turnover department.
    • Ohio State is +9 on the season and ranks 3rd nationally at 1.29 per game.
    • Alabama is +11 on the season and ranks 12th at .92 per game.
  • Ohio State defense has allowed just seven points after an offensive turnover.
  • LB Justin Hilliard leads the team with three recovered TOs, including an end zone interception and a second half fumble recovery in the win over Northwestern. Shaun Wade (Indiana) and Haskell Garrett (Michigan State) each have pick sixes.

10 BOWL GAME RECORDS SET

  • Ohio State is coming off a 49-28 win over No. 2 Clemson in an Allstate Sugar Bowl CFP semifinal game Jan. 1. The Buckeyes set 10 bowl game team and individual records that game:
    • 49 points scored
    • 639 total offensive yards
    • Justin Fields‘ 427 yards of total offense
    • Seven touchdowns & extra points
    • Six touchdowns passing & Justin Fields six TD passes
    • 385 passing yards & Fields passing yards
    • Receiving TDs (2 by Chris Olave and Jeremy Ruckert)

CAREER RECORDS WATCH

  • Justin Fields is currently second on Ohio State’s career TD pass list with 62. In the Sugar Bowl win, he passed Bobby Hoying, who threw 57 from 1992-95. J.T. Barrett holds the Ohio State and Big Ten record with 104.
  • Fields’ 5,179 career passing yards at Ohio State ranks No. 11 in program history.
  • Chris Olave caught two touchdown passes in the Sugar Bowl vs. Clemson and now has 22 in his career, which ranks sixth in program history. He’s two TD receptions from trying Brian Robiskie for the No. 5 spot.

POSTSEASON AWARDS

  • The Buckeyes also had three major award winners: Justin Fields was the Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year and Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year, Wyatt Davis was the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year and Shaun Wade was the Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year.
  • Three Buckeyes have earned first-team All-America honors so far: OG Wyatt Davis (ESPN), DT Haskell Garrett (CBS Sports and Pro Football Focus); and CB Shaun Wade (ESPN).
  • Ohio State’s recent run of Rimington Trophy finalists continued last week as Josh Myers was named a finalist for the award, which honors the top center in the country.

READ MORE: 2020 Football Postseason Honors

BY THE NUMBERS

4 & 6

Get your motor runnin’ … Hard Rock Stadium. Ohio State is No. 4 nationally in total offense with 544.9 yards per game and Alabama is 6th with 535.0 yards per game.

11

Ohio State (four) and Alabama (seven) have played in 11 prior national championship games (BCS & CFP). Ohio State is 2-2 in title games while Alabama is 5-2.

524

Trey Sermon has rushed for 524 yards the past two games (331 vs. Northwestern and 193 vs. Clemson), an Ohio State record for consecutive games (476 by Ezekiel Elliott in 2015).

'Bout 'Bama

  • Alabama became the first team in SEC history to go 10-0 against conference foes in the regular season this year and had the fifth undefeated regular season under head coach Nick Saban.
  • The Crimson Tide won each of its 10 regular season games by 15 or more points before a 52-46 win over Florida in the SEC championship game.
  • Alabama topped Notre Dame, 31-17, in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 in Arlington, Texas.
  • The Crimson Tide’s offense features two Heisman Trophy finalists: QB Mac Jones and WR DeVonta Smith.
  • Among Alabama’s top defensive players is CB Patrick Surtain II, a finalist for the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back.
  • Alabama head coach Nick Saban has plenty of Ohio ties: he was the Buckeyes’ defensive backs coach from 1980-81 under Earl Bruce and later the head coach at Toledo for one year in 1990. From 1991-94, he served as the Cleveland Browns’ defensive coordinator.
  • Saban was 2-1 against Ohio State while the head coach at Michigan State from 1995-99 and is 0-1 against the Buckeyes at Alabama.