The Alabama Crimson Tide concluded the 2020 college football season on Monday night by winning the 2021 National Championship Game. The Alabama offense was just too much for the Ohio State Buckeyes to overcome in the 52-24 victory. In what should be his final game, quarterback Mac Jones played his best game. Jones set the championship game record with 464 yards and added five touchdown passes. It was a historic night for Nick Saban as well. With the win, Saban passes the legendary Bear Bryant for his seventh national championship and sixth with Alabama.
Alabama Wins National Championship Game
The game lived up to its billing for most of the first half. The Alabama offense got things rolling early after its defense forced a three and out of the Buckeyes offense. Starting from their own 22, the Crimson Tide offense got Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith involved early and often. On the second play, Jones connected with Smith for 22 yards to get it going. It was a huge first half for Smith with 12 receptions and 215 yards plus three scores. On the first drive though, Najee Harris would reach the promised land on a fourth and goal from the one to give Alabama the early 7-0 lead with 8:07 in the quarter.
The Buckeyes offense responded with a drive of their own, but without running back Trey Sermon. The talented back got hurt on the first possession of the game and would not return. His replacement, Master Teague III, capped off an eight-play, 75-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown to tie the game at seven with 4:55 in the first.
Alabama responded with a 11-play, 75-yard drive that saw more from Smith. The nation’s best player had four catches on the possession for 52 yards. The fourth catch was just for five yards, but it was a touchdown that put Alabama up 14-7 to open the second quarter. After the Buckeyes were forced to punt on the following possession, it looked like Alabama had a chance to create separation.
Ohio State’s Baron Browning would both sack and force a fumble against Mac Jones to set the Buckeyes up at the Alabama 19. After a pass interference call, Teague would once again find the end zone to again tie the game. This time at 14 with 11:43 in the second. Jones would then answer back going three for three on a quick five-play drive. Jones would connect with Harris for a 26-yard touchdown to go up 21-14.
Alabama Takes Control
The Buckeye offense would once again move the ball deep into Alabama territory, but after getting as close as the six yard line would have to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Jake Seibert. Then the game turned with 5:21 remaining until halftime.
When playing this Alabama defense, kicking a field goal is almost like not scoring at all. To hang with this team, you must always match them with touchdowns. Alabama made it a two-score game quickly. After getting to their own 42, Jones connected with Smith for a 44-yard play to get Alabama to the Ohio State 14. Two plays later the two would connect once again to put the Crimson Tide up 28-17 with 3:19 left.
The Buckeyes would be forced to punt after three plays, and Alabama again made them pay. Three plays later, Smith beat the defense deep for a 42-yard touchdown. That score would extend the lead to 35-17 with under a minute in the half. Alabama outscored Ohio State 28-10 in the second quarter and Smith outgained the Buckeyes 215 to 189.
Alabama Widens the Gap
Ohio State could not afford to let Alabama add another touchdown as they opened the half with possession. The Buckeyes did allow the Tide offense to move the ball but held them to a Will Reichard field goal of 20 yards. Alabama was able to chew up 7:13 of clock on the 16-play drive but holding this offense to a field goal is almost as good as a punt. The kick did push the lead to 38-17.
After holding Alabama to the field goal, Ohio State did not waste anytime getting to the end zone. They went on a four-play drive that highlighted by a 33-yard run by Justin Fields on the second play to get to the Alabama 20. Fields would then connect with Garrett Wilson for a 20-yard scoring toss to get within 14 with 6:45 left in the third.
Alabama would show why they are the championship caliber team they are on the following drive. They would have to do it without DeVonta Smith due to a hand injury. The offense still flourished. The steady passing of Jones and solid running of Brian Robinson Jr. led the Tide down the field. To cap off the 8-play drive for 75 yards was a five-yard scoring throw by Jones to Slade Bolden. This was the first touchdown of the season for Bolden, and Alabama led 45-24 with 2:52 left in the third.
Alabama Closes Out National Championship
Down 21 the Ohio State Buckeyes were running out of time after that last Alabama score. On the first play of the ensuing possession, Fields would connect with Chris Olave to get a first down to their own 36. They were unable to keep the drive going. They were stopped on a fourth and one play at their 45 with 1:02 remaining in the third when Teague was stopped for a two-yard loss.
Still without Smith on the field, Jones was able to lead Alabama down the field once more and put the game away when Harris scored on a one-yard touchdown run to go up 52-24 with 13:15 in the fourth. A highlight of the drive was on the final play of the third when Jones connected with John Metchie for 27 yards. That set the Crimson Tide up at the Ohio State 16.
The Buckeyes would threaten to score once more but were unable to get another score on the board. Alabama was able to run out the clock late to win their 18th national championship.