No. 1 Alabama beat No. 3 Ohio State 52-24 in the College Football Playoff championship game Monday.
The Crimson Tide blew the game open with a 28-point second quarter and a record-setting performance from DeVonta Smith, who finished with 12 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns — in the first half. An injury caused him to miss the third and fourth quarters, but the Tide didn’t need him to finish the game.
First-team All-Americans Mac Jones and Najee Harris also contributed to the blowout. Jones finished with a CFP championship-record 464 passing yards and five touchdowns. Harris added 158 all-purpose yards and four total touchdowns. Alabama totaled a record 621 yards.
Tide coach Nick Saban won his sixth national championship with Alabama and seventh overall, which breaks the record of six set by legendary coach Bear Bryant.
MORE: Crimson Tide dominant in win over Ohio State
Here are three takeaways from Alabama’s victory in the College Football Playoff national championship game:
Smith proved he’s college football’s best player
Ohio State had no answer in the back seven for the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner, and it showed. He played pitch-and-catch with Jones in helping Alabama score touchdowns on five of its seven first-half possessions.
Smith had those 12 first-half catches on 14 targets, with four catches going for 20 yards or more. Smith scored on touchdowns of 5, 5 and 43 yards in the second quarter. The third score gave Alabama a 35-17 halftime lead. Smith, however, left in the third quarter after taking a shot to the hand from Ohio State linebacker Pete Werner.
The performance was helped by brilli ant play-calling by offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who is leaving Alabama to become the head coach at Texas.
Smith closed out his Heisman campaign with a remarkable three-game run in the SEC championship game, College Football Playoff semifinal and CFP championship, with 34 catches for 529 yards and eight touchdowns.
Injuries hurt the Buckeyes
Ohio State was down 14 players, including two starters along the defensive line, due to COVID-19. Running back Trey Sermon left with an arm injury after his first carry, and All-American guard Wyatt Davis left the game in the second quarter.
Ohio State still managed to run the ball effectively with Master Teague, but Justin Fields was limited to 6-of-15 passing for 90 yards in the first half. Fields played through an injury in the semifinal victory against Clemson, but the Buckeyes fell too far behind in the first half because of Alabama’s offense. Fields finished 17 of 33 passing for 194 yards and a score, adding 65 rushing yards as well.
Buckeyes coach Ryan Day has done a fantastic job in two seasons since taking over for Urban Meyer. Ohio State is 20-2 with back-to-back Big Ten championships in that stretch. But on Monday, he was playing short-handed, and his defense couldn’t stop Alabama’s high-powered attack.
Greatest Bama team ever?
The 2020 squad can make that case after delivering a sixth national championship to Tuscaloosa under Saban.
Jones, Smith and Najee Harris — who plowed through a line led by Alex Leatherwood — produced on the biggest stage. Jaylen Waddle, who missed most of the regular season with a leg injury, made a contribution of three catches and 34 yards. Rimington Trophy winner Landon Dickerson — who suffered a torn ACL in the SEC championship game — even won the coin toss and snapped the ball in victory formation.
This might be the most-decorated Crimson Tide team from an awards perspective, and the team averaged 48.5 points per game in a season impacted by COVID-19. Saban, who missed the Iron Bowl after testing positive for the disease, managed to produce yet another national championship machine that set a new standard in the offensive-minded College Football Playoff era.
Offense wins championships now. The Crimson Tide proved it in emphatic fashion.