Alabama does it again

The Crimson Tide cap off perfect season in the National Championship


Photo by The New York Times

Alabama is pictured celebrating after a perfect season capped off with a National Championship victory. “I’m so happy for the team,” Saban said. “Their will, their spirit and their willingness to compete and do the things they needed to do to be the kind of team they could be.”

Joseph Ebmeier, Staff Reporter

The stage was set. The Alabama Crimson Tide were taking on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the championship game of a very unpredictable season. Both teams steamrolled their way to the title game. Alabama came in as the number one seed overall while Ohio State was the three seed, partly because they had only played six games entering the College Football Playoffs.

Alabama’s season was nothing short of domination, beginning on September 26, 2020 with a big win over the Missouri Tigers. Throughout their season, Alabama was able to have big wins against many ranked opponents, as well as a victory in the SEC Championship game against the Florida Gators. When it was all said and done, Alabama was clearly the best team in the country and well-deserving of the number one overall ranking after a very impressive 13-0 season. The Crimson Tide were led this year by their senior wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who notched over 1,800 receiving yards and with 23 receiving touchdowns this year. His impressive season led him to becoming the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy Award since 1991 when Michigan’s Desmond Howard won it. Alabama also had huge contributions this year from junior quarterback Mac Jones and senior running back Najee Harris.

The Buckeyes season got postponed before it even started, and they didn’t play their first game until almost two months after Alabama’s season began. This was due to the Big 10 postponing the fall sports season due to the pandemic. The Buckeyes season was not summed up by beating ranked opponents, although they did take down three on their road to the playoffs, rather it was summed up by cancellations and doubt of this team’s true talent. Throughout Ohio State’s originally scheduled season, they had three big games cancelled. This had fans questioning whether this team deserved to be in the playoffs and if they really had as much talent as they showed during their very short season. Ohio State was led by their junior quarterback Justin Fields. This season, Fields had 2,100 passing yards, along with 22 touchdown passes, an average of 9.3 yards per pass and 5 rushing touchdowns.

Before squaring off against each other in the title game, these teams had to battle through the semi-final round of the playoffs. Alabama faced off against the fourth seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a game the Crimson Tide controlled every minute of. Alabama was never trailed during this game and ended up winning by a score of 31-14. Jones passed for 297 yards and four touchdown passes. Smith caught three of those touchdowns, along with his three touchdown catches he racked up 130 yards on just seven receptions. 

The Buckeyes faced off against the Clemson Tigers in a game that was about redemption for the Buckeyes. Last year, in the same game, Clemson took down Ohio State in a shootout of a game. This year, however, Ohio State got the best of Clemson in blowout fashion. The Buckeyes defeated the Tigers by a score of 49-28. Fields had an incredible game. He threw for six touchdowns passes, along with 385 yards and only one interception. And with those wins for Alabama and Ohio State, they were set to face off in the National Championship Game.

Alabama won the coin toss and deferred which means that we would see Fields on the field first. Ohio State had a quick three and out drive which played to the Crimson Tide’s favor as they deferred the coin toss. Once Jones and Smith hit the field, the entire feel of the game changed. Alabama’s other star wide receiver had suffered a severe ankle injury earlier in the season, and he was able to get in on the action too. Junior Jaylen Waddle was able to hall in a 15 yard catch, helping move Alabama down the field and into scoring range. Alabama had a almost perfect first drive, and it was capped off by Harris taking it in from the one yard line. Alabama’s other star wide receiver had suffered a severe ankle injury earlier in the season, and he was able to get in on the action, too. 

This brought Ohio State back on the field, however, they didn’t have their starting running back out on the field. Senior Trey Sermon suffered a collarbone injury on the Buckeyes first drive and would not return to the game. Ohio State looked much more prepared for this drive; they were able to answer Alabama with a quick touchdown of their own, from their backup running back sophomore Master Teague III, knotting the score at 7 a piece. As the first quarter was winding down, the Crimson Tide were on the move yet again. They were able to march all the way down to the five yard line before the end of the first quarter.

 On the first play of the second, a Jones pass to Smith put the Tide in the endzone again, giving them a 14-7 lead. Ohio State got the ball back and was forced to punt after only seven plays. Luck was on their side, however, because only two plays after they punted it back to Alabama, Jones fumbled returning the ball to the Buckeyes. Following the fumble, it only took Ohio State one play to find the endzone, Teague running this one in as well, tying the score at 14. Alabama had no such problems on their next drive, taking the 75 yards in just five plays. This drive was capped off by a Jones pass to Harris for a 26 yard touchdown, giving the Crimson Tide a 21-14 lead. 

Midway through the second quarter, the Buckeyes were able to stay close with a field goal on their next drive, putting the score to 21-17. However, it would begin to slip away for the Buckeyes as on Alabama’s next drive where they were able to stretch their lead to 28-17 coming on a Jones pass to Smith yet again. The Buckeyes were hoping to get back into the game with their next drive— it turned out to be the opposite, the Crimson Tide defense was on point and the Buckeyes had to punt after just three plays. Alabama’s offense continued to fire on all cylinders. In only a three play drive, Jones and Smith were able to hook up for a third touchdown in the first half alone. Both teams had one more drive in the first half, both resulting in punts, and one kneel from Ohio State sent the game to halftime with Alabama up 35-17.

The second half started with a scare for Alabama. On just the second snap of the half, Smith dislocated his finger and forced him out of the game. The trainers were not able to get his finger right again and Smith was not able to return to the game. In his postgame interview, head coach Nick Saban gave some insight to his injury. 

“Well, he really dislocated his finger,” Saban said. “It was dislocated and they couldn’t get it back in. If they’d have got it back in, he would have been fine.”

Even with Smith out, the Crimson Tide still had a prolific offense attack in the second half of the game. Alabama’s first drive lasted 16 plays and yielded them a field goal, increasing their lead to 38-17. The Buckeyes then took the field for their first drive of the second half knowing they had an uphill battle and needed to put points on the board every time they touched the ball. Their first drive lasted only three plays and they were able to get into the endzone, closing the gap to 14 points. However, Ohio State had nothing at all to slow down the Alabama offense, and the Crimson Tide got into the endzone again on their next drive, stretching the score to 45-24. When the ball came back into the hands of Ohio State, they couldn’t get anything going and turned the ball over on downs quickly.

The fourth quarter began with the ball in the hands of Alabama. The Buckeyes knew it would take a miracle to come back against such a stellar team. The Crimson Tide marched down the field and Harris punched in a one yard touchdown run, making the score 52-24. After a few back and forth drives and no more points put up, the clock struck zeros and ended the domination by Alabama.

“I think we’re the best team to ever play,” Jones said. “There’s no team that will ever play an SEC schedule like that again. At the same time, we’re just so happy to have won this game and kind of put the icing on the cake.”

This game was absolutely controlled by Alabama. They dominated the Buckeyes in most aspects of the game and it really showed in the final score. The Crimson Tide were able to keep possession of the ball and keep it out of the hands of Fields, which showed in Ohio State’s low score. They also were able to capitalize on almost every drive of their own which is why they were able to put up such a large number of points. This championship gave Saban seven national championships, putting him as the winningest coach in the event. Coming into the game, he was tied with Bear Bryant at six and this game was able to break the tie. No one would be surprised to see Alabama back next year. With a star-studded team, an incredible head coach and a rich history of good recruiting, Alabama is poised to return to the top of college football yet again next year. But, no matter how next year plays out, the Alabama Crimson Tide’s 2020-2021 season will go down in history as one of the best in college football.