Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields passes against Clemson during the first half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
- Alabama has opened as a 7.5-point favorite over Ohio State in the College Football Playoff Championship Game on Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
- The Crimson Tide beat Notre Dame 31-14 in the Rose Bowl; Ohio State upset Clemson 49-28 in the Sugar Bowl
- See opening odds, spread and total for the National Championship game below
#1 seed Alabama advanced to title game by beating #4 Notre Dame 31-14 in the first semifinal at the relocated Rose Bowl in Arlington, Texas, though the Crimson Tide did not cover the 18.5-point spread.
In the second semifinal, #3 Ohio State rolled to a 49-28 upset of #2 Clemson at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans despite a seven-point underdog.
Alabama (12-0) and Ohio State (7-0) will both take perfect records into the championship game.
The Crimson Tide is 8-4 against the spread, though it has failed to cover in its last two games. The Buckeyes are 4-3 ATS.
Alabama vs Ohio State CFP Championship Opening Odds
|Ohio State||+230||+7.5 (-115)||Over 76.5 (-110)|
|Alabama||-275||-7.5 (-105)||Under 76.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Jan. 1st from FanDuel
Smith Steals Show
DeVonta Smith caught three of Mac Jones’ four touchdown passes, as the Heisman Trophy finalists combined to lift Alabama to victory over Notre Dame. Najee Harris added 125 yards rushing.
Alabama scored touchdowns on its first three drives with the second covering 97 yards. The highlight was a 53-yard pass from Jones to Smith, who leaped over 6-foot cornerback Nick McCloud just as he crossed the line of scrimmage.
That drive ended with a 12-yard touchdown passes to tight end Jahleel Billingsley. Smith had scoring receptions of 26 and 34 yards on the other two possessions.
THAT’S THREE FOR DEVONTA SMITH 😤 pic.twitter.com/Ugnf9D6xe5
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 1, 2021
While Alabama’s win was convincing, the 31 points were the fewest it has scored since losing 41-16 to Clemson in the CFP final two years ago.
2021 CFP National Championship Odds Tracker
Ohio State Pulls Upset
Justin Fields had a Sugar Bowl for the ages as he threw for 385 yards and six touchdowns to lead Ohio State over Clemson. He completed 22 of 28 passes.
Ohio State had a scary moment when Fields was knocked out of the game for one play in the second quarter following a hard tackle by Clemson middle linebacker James Skalski, who was ejected for targeting.
James Skalski was called for targeting and ejected after this hit on Justin Fields. pic.twitter.com/0oqTQCTEDi
— ESPN (@espn) January 2, 2021
Chris Olave caught two of Fields’ bombs for scores. Olave had six receptions for 132 yards after missing Ohio State’s victory over Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game for undisclosed reasons.
Trey Sermon rushed for 193 yards and one TD on 31 carries.
Sixteen Buckeyes’ players were listed as unavailable for Friday’s game. Per university policy, Ohio State did not say if any of the absences were because of COVID-19 reasons.
Master Teague, the second-leading rusher, was among those who did not play along with starting guard Harry Miller and defensive ends Zach Harrison and Tyler Friday.
Teague has rushed for 449 yards and six touchdowns while splitting time at running back with Trey Sermon.
Trey Sermon won this foot race to the end zone ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/KynUeMx8Hi
— ESPN (@espn) January 2, 2021
Harrison has a team-leading 4.5 tackles for loss. Their status for the matchup with Alabama is uncertain.
The Last Time
The teams last met in the CFP semifinals on Jan. 1, 2015 in the Sugar Bowl – when Ohio State pulled a 42-35 upset as 7.5-point underdogs. The game also easily exceeded the total of 57.5.
Zeke Elliott rushed for 230 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Buckeyes and Cardale Jones had 243 yards passing.
Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derek Henry had 95 yards on 13 carries for the Crimson Tide.
Line Too Low?
While Ohio State was impressive in its dismantling of Clemson, no college football team has been as dominant as Alabama this season.
Looks for the early money to go on the Crimson Tide at such an invited price. In fact, it wouldn’t be shocking if the spread reaches double figures.
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.