This is it – the best two college football teams in the nation squaring off in one last showdown on Monday night in Miami. Let’s break it all down, stay sharp in our NCAAF picks, and bid adieu to the 2020 college football season.
Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
Monday, January 11, 2021 – 08:00 PM EST at Hard Rock Stadium
Despite the protestations of many who criticized the Buckeyes’ selection in the CFP due to their truncated season, Ohio State was seeded third and shortly thereafter, dismantled the Clemson Tigers in a 49-28 thrashing. Ohio State quarterback, Justin Fields, might be considered second fiddle to the Tiger’s QB Trevor Lawrence, but he certainly didn’t act like it with a stunning six touchdowns on 22-of-28 passing for 385 yards and 42 more on the ground. The college football odds in that game had the Buckeyes installed as seven-point underdogs but Fields was a one-man wrecking crew and he will be back to do more damage on Monday night.
The Crimson Tide copped the No. 1 seed and they lived up to their lofty billing with a dominating, 31-14, victory over No. 4 Notre Dame. Bama quarterback, Mac Jones, has often been overlooked in the pantheon of college quarterbacks this season but his reputation is growing as a leader and bona fide first-round draft pick in April’s NFL Draft. All Jones did was throw for four touchdowns and 297 yards, connecting on 25 of 30 passes.
Although many will point to his embarrassment of offensive weapons, including the first wide receiver Heisman Trophy winner since Desmond Howard in 1991, DeVonta Smith, no one can dispute his surgical precision, leading the nation with a 95.8 quarterback rating and a stunning 77 percent completion percentage. He also made school history when he became Alabama’s first-ever winner of the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation’s top quarterback over Lawrence and Fields.
Stats to Consider
Alabama is normally built on a brutal defense complemented by a potent offense. But this season the script has flipped to where the offense is getting all the headlines and the defense, although upper echelon, has not been historically significant. The Tide’s offense is averaging 48.2 points per game, good for second in the nation, while their defense is surrendering 19.5 points per game, which places them 20th in all of college football.
Ohio State is remarkably similar to their opponent on Monday night in that the offense is what stirs the drink, averaging 43.4 points per game and ranked fifth in that category while their defense is allowing 21 points per game and ranked 24th in the nation.
Ohio State will attempt to win the day with a relentless ground game led by Trey Sermon, Master Teague III, and the mobile Justin Fields. The Buckeyes ranked fifth in the nation in rushing, averaging 272.6 yards per game while their passing attack was ranked 31st, averaging 272.3 yards per contest.
The Tide will roll with Mac Jones doing what he does best, connecting early and often to his stable of gifted receivers. Alabama ranked fifth in passing yards, averaging 349.3 per game while their rushing attack was less potent, averaging 185.7 yards per game and good for 46th in that category.
Wanna Make a Bet?
Whenever we determine what will be included in our college football picks, we have to write a script in our head, or on paper, as to how the game will go according to everything we have learned in our research. Clearly, these teams are virtual mirror images of each other, at least statistically.
But there are a few noteworthy differences and the first is Ohio State’s superior rushing attack versus an Alabama run defense that ranks 12th in the nation. The Buckeyes have a big advantage in that category and defends the run better as well. Thus, we would expect Mac Jones to take to the skies as he often has this season and try to blister a Buckeyes’ pass defense that allows 261.3 yards per game and ranks in the lower third of all college teams.
However, the Tide does not defend the pass much better and is in the lower half in that category, surrendering 243.5 passing yards per game. In other words, both quarterbacks will be able to tee off and put up huge numbers. The only thing that will slow this air show down is Ohio State’s rushing attack that will occupy Bama’s defense throughout the evening.
We see that the line at all of the best betting sites on this game has spiked from Alabama -7 ½ to -8 ½ while the total has slipped a point from 76 to 75. We like where both those numbers are going as Ohio State could win this game outright and no one would be all that surprised, yet we are now getting an 8.5 point head start while the total over at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review) is begging to go over – and let’s do just that!
Last Chance Value Picks
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.