For Alabama Fans, a Perfect Start to 2021

Alabama beat Ohio State 52-24, now having won 18 national championships.

Maggie York, Staff Writer

On Monday, Jan. 11, many sports fans found themselves glued to the TV watching the 2021 college football national championship matchup of Ohio State vs. Alabama. For Alabama fans, the team’s appearance was no surprise, as the Crimson Tide have won 17 national championships prior to this year. Ohio State, also no novice to the national championships, has won eight national championships, most recently in 2014. 

Leading up to this game, Alabama, ranked no. 1, beat Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl 31-14, giving them a 12-0 record, something very extraordinary in a season of COVID setbacks and limited games. A victim of COVID, Clemson suffered without their starting quarterback and lost to the Buckeyes, giving Ohio State a 7-0 record and allowing them to continue to the national championship. 

With two Heisman runners-up and one Heisman winner, Devonta Smith, the Crimson Tide was picked by most to be the 2021 national champions. As for the Buckeyes’ and the Tide’s quarterbacks, they both have equally impressive stats. Mac Jones, the Alabama quarterback, scored 41 touchdowns and passed 4500 yards this season. In just this game alone, Jones passed 464 yards and threw five touchdowns passes, setting national championship records in passing yards and competitions. Jones also accomplished new national records with his 77.4% completion rate topping the previous NCAA record of 76.7% set by Colt McCoy in 2008.

As for the Buckeyes, Justin Fields holds his own impressive records. With a 70.2% completion rate and 158 completions this season, Fields held his own for his final season at Ohio State, even in a season very much affected by COVID. Fields had an especially impressive game against Clemson, amassing 385 yards and six touchdowns; however, an injury Fields suffered during this game impacted his play in the national championship. Both Fields and Jones plan to head for the draft this year. 

As for the game itself, both teams played impressively and began 2021 on a good start for many football fans. The game took place in Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. 

The game began in Ohio State’s possession but fizzled into a three-and-out. Alabama then gained possession and picked up four first downs, scoring their first rushing touchdown by Najee Harris. On Ohio State’s second possession, Master Teague III scored a touchdown on an eight-yard rush to tie the game, and punter Drue Chrisman handled the kickoff, filling in for kicker Blake Haubeil.

In the second quarter, the Tide retook the lead with Mac Jones making a connection to Heisman winner Devonta Smith. The Buckeyes then got to the Tide’s 12-yard-line, but were downed by the Tide. However, the Buckeyes then forced a fumble from Jones that the Buckeyes recovered. They then took one play to find the end zone. The Tide took five plays to score with Najee Harris for a 26-yard reception, giving them a touchdown lead. Alabama safety Jordan Battle was then disqualified for targeting, the Buckeyes finishing their drive with a field goal.

Alabama had no trouble moving the ball down the field in their next drive, with Jones finding Smith for his second touchdown, marking a two-possession lead. The Buckeyes offense gained only four yards on the ensuing drive. Smith then returned the punt for 19 years, setting the offense up at their own 40-yard line, with Smith scoring from a 42-yard-pass on the third play of the drive, extending the lead to 18 points. Ohio State then ended their final drive of the first half with another three-and-out. The teams headed to the locker rooms, with Alabama leading 35-17 at halftime.

Alabama started their first drive of the second half with the ball on their own 23-yard-line, ending the drive with Will Reichard’s field goal. Ohio State then scored their shortest touchdown drive of the game, a 33-yard rush by Field, setting up a 20-yard pass to wide receiver Garret Wilson. In the next ensuing drive, Smith, unfortunately, suffered a hand injury that caused him to retreat to the locker room and not play in the remainder of the game. The tide then scored again, with Slade Bolden catching a five-yard pass from Jones, increasing the lead back to 21 points. 

Alabama increased their lead to four touchdowns on the fourth play of the game’s final quarter, with Harris scoring for the second time. For the Buckeyes final drive, they took the ball to the Alabama 6-yard-line, ending in an incomplete pass on fourth and goal. Alabama then was able to run the clock and finished the game, winning 52-24. 

Following the game, Smith was named offensive most valuable player, and Christian Barmore defensive MVP. This game was a great beginning to 2021 for many Bama fans and left other teams encouraged for the hopeful return to sports this year.