Written by Alan Brads
Having finished a unique college football season, the college football playoff selection committee narrowed the field down to four teams. Perennial powerhouses Alabama and Clemson were no surprises being ranked as the 1 and 2 seed respectively. The 3rd seed Ohio State brought about controversy as they had played an average of about 5 less games than fifth ranked Texas A&M. The final playoff team was the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, despite losing their conference championship game to Clemson.
The first matchup was far from a thriller. The Crimson Tide dominated Notre Dame from kickoff to final whistle. QB Mac Jones had a field day against the Irish secondary completing 25 of his 30 passes and tossing four TDs. Wideout Devonta Smith sealed the race for the Heisman trophy by hauling in 3 touchdowns to compliment 120 yards receiving. The 31-14 final score was a testament to how talented Alabama’s offensive attack is, as it was their lowest scoring total on the entire season. Most fans were expecting a bloodbath in this one, and they got exactly that.
The clash between the 2 and 3 seeds was far more compelling. One year ago, the Clemson Tigers and QB Trevor Lawrence took down the Buckeyes in a dramatic playoff game with a finish for the ages. Coming into this year’s matchup Clemson coach Dabo Swinney ranked the Buckeyes at 11th saying they simply had not played enough games to deserve a shot at a national title, this only served to increase the tension and rivalry between the clubs. On New Year’s Day the Buckeyes stunned the seven-point favorites. QB Justin Fields led the way with six touchdowns. While his nemesis Lawrence threw for only two. The Buckeyes defense suffocated the usually potent rushing attack, holding running back Travis Ettiene to 32 yards. This 49-28 upset will forever be enshrined in Buckeye lore.
While the Buckeyes were playing their best football at the right time of the year, the last laugh still belonged to Alabama. All year the Buckeye secondary had been exploited by talented receivers, and Devonta Smith was no exception. In The first half alone, Smith caught an unprecedented 12 passes for 215 yards. Jones and Smith connected for three TDs before the star wide receiver exited the game with a dislocated finger. Even after Smith’s injury, Heisman finalist running back Najee Harris led the way to a 52-24 victory, This marks head coach Nick Saban’s 7th time lifting the trophy which puts him alone at the top of the record list, breaking tie with late Alabama legend Bear Bryant.