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Top-ranked Alabama beats No. 3 Ohio State 52-24 to win its sixth national championship under coach Nick Saban

(WTVY)
Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 10:54 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2021 at 10:57 PM CST
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MIAMI GARDENS, Florida (AP) -- DeVonta Smith was uncoverable, Najee Harris unstoppable and Mac Jones impeccable. With a performance that was both surgical and explosive, No. 1 Alabama won the College Football Playoff national championship game 52-24 against No. 3 Ohio State on Monday night.

The final game of a college football season in a pandemic, a season that was uncertain to be played in the summer and filled with disruptions in the fall, ended in the most predictable fashion: Alabama (13-0) as national champion for the sixth time in the last 12 years under coach Nick Saban.

For Saban, it was career title No. 7 overall, breaking a tie with Alabama great Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most by a major college coach.

Ohio State (7-1) just couldn’t keep up. Justin Fields, playing what might be his last game before heading to the NFL, passed for 194 yards and a touchdown. Whether Fields was 100% after taking a brutal hit to the side during his brilliant semifinal performance against Clemson was hard to know for sure.

On the Buckeyes’ first drive, they lost star running back Trey Sermon to an injury and in a game they needed to be running at top speed, facing one of great offenses in recent history, they sputtered too much. Ohio State has never allowed more points in a bowl game.

Fans can debate which team in the Saban dynasty is best, but none will be more memorable than this group. The Tide finished perfect during a season that could not have been further from it as COVID-19 forced teams into quarantines and endless testing and uncertainty every single week with games played in mostly empty stadiums.

Only about 15,000 fans were at Hard Rock Stadium, capacity 65,326, to see the last magnificent performance of Smith’s college career.

The Heisman Trophy winner had catches for 12 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half as the Crimson Tide bolted out to a 35-17 lead.

Using an array of motions and misdirections, outgoing offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian had Ohio State heads spinning trying to track down Smith.

Sometimes it was simpler than that. On Smith’s third touchdown, he lined up in the slot, the closest to the line of three receivers on the left side. Smith cut quickly to the middle of the field and suddenly was matched up against a linebacker, whom he left in the dust for a 42-yard score with 41 seconds left in the second quarter.

Smith, who finished his freshman season by catching the 2017 national championship winning touchdown pass from Tua Tagovailoa, ended his Alabama career as the leading career receiver in Southeastern Conference history. He was the offensive player of Monday night’s game.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.