The Alabama Crimson Tide were ranked No.3 in the preseason.
It is not how you start. It is how you finish.
Crimson Tide demonstrated they were the best team in college football from start to finish during the most unpredictable seasons after winning the College Football Playoff national championship game 52-24 against No. 3 Ohio State on Monday night. They finished the year 13-0.
Crimson Tide Head coach Nick Saban collected career title No. 7 overall, breaking a tie with Alabama great Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most by a major college coach. Saban is also the first coach to win a national title in three different decades.
“This team accomplished more almost than any team. No disrespect to any other teams that we had or any championship teams. But this team won 11 SEC games. No other team has done that,” Saban said. “They won the SEC, went undefeated in the SEC, then they beat two great teams in the Playoffs with no break in between. This is our fifth game in a row, from LSU to Arkansas to Florida to Notre Dame to here. Played 13 games, went undefeated with all the disruption that we had in this season. I think there’s quite a bit to write about when it comes to the legacy of the team.”
Alabama is a national champion for the sixth time in the last 12 years under Saban. Moreover, they have won three of the six College Football Playoffs series.
Najee Harris, who finished fifth in the Heisman race, did his job. He had 158 all-purpose yards on 29 touches, scoring three times to give him an SEC record 30 touchdowns this season.
Mac Jones made sure not to crash the Rolls Royce. He finished third in the Heisman voting; he was 36 for 45 for a CFP championship-record 464 yards and five touchdowns. Jones set a single-season record for passer efficiency rating at 203.
The party did not start until DeVonta Smith showed up. The Heisman Trophy winner capped off one of the most outstanding college football careers in the first half. “Smitty” had 12 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns.
“Well, we had a mission,” Smith said. “Everybody wanted to end things the right way. We just all came to work every day and just put in the work. We got the result that we wanted.”
Along with his Heisman, Smith entered the game as the first wide receiver in SEC history to win the award. He led the country in catches, receiving yards, all-purpose yards, and receiving touchdowns. Smith is the first wide receiver ever to win the AP Player of the Year.
The Buckeyes deserve to be in the game. Unfortunately, Alabama is really good.
Smith had more receiving yards than the Buckeyes had passing or rushing yards.
Ohio State (7-1) started well but could not keep pace. Justin Fields, playing what might be his last game before heading to the NFL, passed for 194 yards and a touchdown.
Fields was not available to the media leading up to the game. He admitted he did not start practice leading up to the game instead on the back end. He suffered a brutal hit to the side during his impressive semifinal performance against Clemson. Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day was minimal when also speaking on Fields condition leading up to the game but admitted post-game he was not fully recovered.
“At the end of the day, I’m glad I was able to play, and we didn’t get the job done,” Fields said. “But of course, I could have been healthier, but I was healthy enough. I was able to be out there.”
A critical factor that may have helped the Buckeyes was Trey Sermon. He sustained a shoulder injury on the Buckeyes’ first drive and did not return. It was the most points Ohio State has allowed in a bowl game.
The banter will be back and forth; however, this may be the best current Alabama football team in the program’s history and, arguably, college football. This team played an all-SEC schedule. For only the second time under Saban, the team was undefeated. They produced three of the top five Heisman vote-getters and surpassed the offensive output (48.5 points per game) of even the historic LSU team from a year ago.
This Crimson Tide team had no spring practice and started their season a month late because of a pandemic. Saban missed the Iron Bowl after testing positive for Covid-19. Social and racial injustices were on the minds of players who faced the pressure of winning. Instead, they kept rolling and rolling.