In the College Football Playoff Championship Game, how will these position battles affect the outcome of Alabama vs. Ohio State?
No. 1 Alabama football and the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes will meet in the College Football Playoff Championship Game and these position battles go a long way in determining who is the champion and who is the runner-up.
Starting with Alabama football, they got here through the pure excellence of a 12-0 undefeated season as did the Buckeyes at 7-0. Their strength has been the passing attack. Quarterback Mac Jones has had a stellar season throwing the football and leading the team to this point. He has thrown for 4,036 yards, 36 touchdowns and four interceptions.
His best asset has been Heisman Trophy winner, DeVonta Smith. He has 105 receptions, 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season.
They’ll try to outscore Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields who is coming off the best game of his career in the Sugar Bowl when he threw for 385 yards and six touchdowns to defeat Clemson.
Mind you, this performance came after he took a hard, jarring targeting shot to the ribs from James Skalski as he was running for more yards.
The game within the game that’ll decide the National Championship Game1. Devonta Smith vs. Shaun Wade
Get your popcorn ready for this one. This is going to be a great matchup to watch. Smith is a great route-runner and makes spectacular catches all over the field.
Wade is a solid man-to-man coverage guy who has a nose for the football and can come down in run support to make plays. This will be Wade’s biggest test of the season. He got beat a few times against Clemson. Smith catches a lot of defensive backs out of position.
Wade has to cover Smith the entire game. Follow him all over the field. As far as who will get the better of who, Smith could win this matchup if Alabama finds creative ways to get him the ball early and in rhythm. This is the most important matchup of the game. If it’s one-sided in either direction, that team wins.
Prediction: DeVonta Smith
2. Justin Fields vs. Alabama Secondary
Fields will present problems for Alabama’s defense because not only can he throw the football accurately short, intermediate and deep, he can scramble and hurt the defense for big gains. With his rib injury, his rushing ability may be limited which could benefit Alabama’s defense. Fields still has Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jameson Williams and Jeremy Ruckert to throw to. They have accounted for 1,588 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns combined.
For Alabama to win this matchup Josh Jobe and Patrick Surtain II have to shut down Olave and Wilson. They have 22 combined pass deflections. Malachi Moore leads the secondary with three interceptions. He will need to make his presence felt also.
The secondary as a whole has to be physical with the Buckeye receivers. The front seven has to hit Fields even if they don’t get the sack. Jam, jam and jam some more. Alabama’s secondary can win this matchup if they do that and don’t allow the Buckeye receivers to gain much separation.
Prediction: Justin Fields
3. Ohio State defensive line vs. Alabama offensive line
This one could be a tossup because the lines are very good. The Alabama football offensive line has protected Jones very well when he drops back to pass. Jones has only been sacked 11 times the entire season and they have only given up a total of 17 sacks. They move people out of the way for Najee Harris who has benefited from their aggressiveness and sound blocking as a unit. He has rushed for 1,387 yards and 24 touchdowns. He is the third-best rusher in the NCAA and No.1 in the SEC.
The Ohio State defensive line needs to get more push off the line of scrimmage from Jonathan Cooper, Tommy Togial, Haskell Garrett and Zach Harrison. The front four is going to be crucial because if they can confuse the Crimson Tide offensive line with stunts and different motions, that will open up gaps for Pete Werner, Tuf Borland and Baron Browning to get to the quarterback or ballcarrier for a sack, pressure or tackle for loss.
Prediction: Alabama offensive line