Three reasons Ohio State can beat Alabama in the CFP National Championship Game
Making their fourth Championship Game appearance in the last five years, the Alabama Crimson Tide are commanding favorites over the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 CFP title game. However, these Buckeyes are far from a pushover. Here are three reasons why Ohio State can spring the upset in the National Championship Game.
Tue, January 12 2021, 1:00 AM
Alabama Crimson Tide
Ohio State Buckeyes
Justin Fields and Trey Sermon are a lethal combination
Junior quarterback Justin Fields and senior running back Trey Sermon are nearly unstoppable for Ohio State.
Fields has completed an eye-popping 73.7% of his throws this season for 9.9 yards per attempt. He’s also tossed 21 touchdowns passes compared to only six interceptions. In the Sugar Bowl (CFP Semifinal) against Clemson, Fields’ statline was staggering. He was 22-for-28 passing with 385 yards and six touchdowns.
Fields is also capable of making plays with his feet. He’s taken off 75 times this year for 316 yards and five touchdowns.
However, Trey Sermon is the unquestioned No. 1 option on the ground for the Buckeyes. He’s amassed 868 yards on the ground this season on just 115 carries while accounting for four touchdowns.
Though his 31-carry, 193-yard performance in a 49-28 victory over Clemson last Friday was impressive, it pales in comparison to his Big 10 title game outing. Sermon rushed for 331 yards against Northwestern on 29 attempts and tallied two touchdowns.
Ohio State’s defense can stuff the run and steal the ball
The Buckeyes’ stoppers were ranked fifth in preventing the run this year, as they allowed just 89.1 rushing yards per game. Clemson ran for only 44 yards in the Sugar Bowl before eventually abandoning the ground game in an attempt to recover from a massive deficit.
The Alabama run game is a modest 45th by yards per contest, so the Crimson Tide offense could end up becoming one-dimensional.
According to the PFF numbers this morning, Ohio State's defense last night had 13 hurries, six QB hits, two sacks and two batted passes on Trevor Lawrence.— Sean Callahan (@Sean_Callahan) January 2, 2021
The pass rush of OSU was considered a question going into this game last night. It's safe to say they answered the call.
Ohio State’s defense is also extremely dangerous when it comes to forcing turnovers. The Buckeyes are tied for third in takeaways this season at 2.6 per tilt. Alabama is fairly careful with the football, averaging less than a giveaway per game, but we’ll see if Ohio State can’t force a turnover at a critical time in the National Championship Game.
Certain key trends favor the Buckeyes
Ohio State is not accustomed to being the underdog, but they’ve played the role quite well. The Buckeyes are 19-7 ATS in their last 26 games as an underdog, including a 5-2 mark in their last seven such bowl games. They’ve also covered in five straight January tilts.
Alabama has failed to cover in each of their last four Championship Game appearances, and are 2-7 ATS in their last nine January contests.