GLADWIN – Alabama vs Ohio State probably not the game most of us expected, but it sure looks like it will be competitive. As I watched the games on Friday evening I was struck with how large the gap is between the top teams and everybody else. Going into the nightcap, OSU vs Clemson, I was including Clemson in that top group. After the game I came away with the impression that Alabama and Ohio State are clearly playing at a different level this season. Notre Dame and Clemson didn’t stand a chance.
Undefeated Cincinnati may have had a legitimate gripe about being left out of the playoffs. After all they were undefeated while Notre Dame and Clemson each had a loss. After watching their game earlier in the day I think that the selection committee snub saved them from an embarrassing loss. Both Ohio State and Alabama would have trounced them.
Defenses no longer win championships in today’s college game. Quarterback play and dynamic wide receivers do, something that both teams have. Alabama quarterback Mac Jones completed 77 percent of his passes for 4,036 yards and 36 touchdowns while throwing only four interceptions this year. Due to an abbreviated season Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields doesn’t have the gaudy numbers, but he was almost as equally effective. He completed 73 percent of his passes for 1,906 yards and 21 touchdowns. He did have six interceptions.
OSU has two great playmakers on the perimeter in Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Olave leads the team with 42 receptions for 660 yards and seven touchdowns. Wilson has 40 catches for 673 yards and five touchdowns, but as good as OSU is at wide receiver Alabama may be even better. DeVonta Smith joins his quarterback, Mac Jones, as a Heisman finalist, the winner of which was announced last night. Smith had 105 catches for 1.641 yards and 20 touchdowns. An injury to Jaylen Waddle gave John Metchie an opportunity, which he made the most of. After taking over as the number two receiver he caught 47 passes for 835 yards.
Both teams have dominant offensive lines and great running backs. Alabama’s Najee Harris could have been a Heisman finalist in most years. He is equally effective as a runner or receiver. Alabama has done a great good getting him the ball in space. With possibly the best offensive line in college football, the Crimson Tide has been able to dominate the line of scrimmage. Trey Sermon came on strong late in the season for the Buckeyes. He had 331 rushing yards in the Big Ten Championship game against Northwestern and 200 yards in the Sugar Bowl. If the OSU line continues to open holes and protect Fields it should be a good game. I anticipate both teams will score early and often.