DeVonta Smith, Mac Jones, Alabama Rout Ohio State to Win 2021 CFP Championship

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2021

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith scores a touchdown past Ohio State safety Josh Proctor during the first half of an NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

For the sixth time in the last 12 seasons, the Alabama Crimson Tide are the national champions of college football.

Alabama earned a 52-24 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes on Monday night in the College Football Playoff National Championship, completing a perfect 13-0 season with one of the best offenses in history.

It was the DeVonta Smith show early at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Heisman Trophy winner set a title game record with 12 catches and scored three touchdowns in the win:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

DeVonta Smith finds the endzone for the Tide ‼️ #NationalChampionship https://t.co/xa0QKBugT0

ESPN @espn

ANOTHER TD FOR DEVONTA 😤 #NationalChampionship https://t.co/mwS0ofKcvM

ESPN @espn

OH MY DEVONTA SMITH 🤯 That makes THREE TOUCHDOWNS for the Heisman winner 🔥 https://t.co/u9qpKEKnTC

A hand injury forced him off the field in the third quarter, but he did enough to give Alabama a 35-17 lead at halftime.

The offensive onslaught continued in the second half as Mac Jones finished with five touchdown passes despite injuring his leg, matching a career high and marking his eighth game with at least four scores this season.

Alabama built a 28-point lead early in the fourth quarter on Najee Harris' third touchdown and never looked back.

Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban secured his seventh national championship, passing Bear Bryant for the most in history. This was his second undefeated team after the 2009 Tide finished 14-0.

Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields was held to one touchdown and Ohio State couldn't keep up after running back Trey Sermon was injured on the first play of the game. The Buckeyes were seeking their first championship since the 2014 season and finished 7-1.


Notable Performances

Mac Jones, QB, ALA: 36-of-45, 464 passing yards, 5 TDs

Najee Harris, RB, ALA: 22 carries, 79 rushing yards, 7 catches, 79 receiving yards, 3 TDs

DeVonta Smith, WR, ALA: 12 catches, 215 receiving yards, 3 TDs

Justin Fields, QB, OSU: 17-of-33, 194 passing yards, 1 TD, 6 carries, 67 rushing yards

Master Teague III, RB, OSU: 15 carries, 65 rushing yards, 2 TDs

Chris Olave, WR, OSU: 8 catches, 69 receiving yards


DeVonta Smith and Alabama Stars Shine in Unstoppable Offense

If there were any doubts about Smith as the best player in college football this season, those questions were answered early.

The receiver took over, gaining more yards than Ohio State in the first half (215-190).

His play gained plenty of attention from those watching:

LeBron James @KingJames

DeVonte Smith is one of the best pure receivers I’ve ever watched! Like a mix between Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison. Man he’s good!

JJ Watt @JJWatt

DeVonta is going crazyyyyyy!!!!!!!

Darius Leonard @dsleon45

Devonta once again ???? Oh my 😂😂😂

Patrick Mahomes II @PatrickMahomes

Lol they just need to put like everybody on him

Desean Jackson @DeSeanJackson10

That boy DeVonta Smith Cold Cold !!

Jerry Jeudy⁴ @jerryjeudy

Greatest WR to play college football @DeVontaSmith_6

Skip Bayless @RealSkipBayless

Seriously, if DeVonta Smith can stay healthy, he has the tangibles and intangibles to be Jerry Rice.

Smith suffered a finger injury in the third quarter and didn't return, but he had made his mark.

Alabama also had plenty of production without him, as Harris offered impressive plays on the ground and through the air:

ESPN @espn

Alabama strikes first!! 💥 #NationalChampionship https://t.co/HUU3iE1ot3

ESPN @espn

NAJEE. HARRIS. #NationalChampionship https://t.co/UHfVOiuYoa

ESPN @espn

Najee Harris' third TD of the night 👏 #NationalChampionship https://t.co/yGM4aQA57F

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

One of the best six-yard runs you'll see 💪 @ohthatsNajee22 #NationalChampionship https://t.co/DymOQ9CkVP

ESPNUpstate @ESPNUpstate

If you're inside the three, Najee Harris becomes a walking (running?) touchdown. That guy is a bowling ball. He might be the most NFL ready player on the field tonight, & he showed it there. Patience to find the lane, let his block set up, powered through contact.

Bucky Brooks @BuckyBrooks

It’s taken awhile for Najee Harris to get the love and attention that his game deserves but he’s the prototype at the position. Big-bodied RB w/legit receiving skills. It’s hard to find route runners at his size at the position. #NFLDraft

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

There shouldn't be a question...but Najee is RB1

Harris also passed Derrick Henry with a school-record 30 touchdowns from scrimmage in a season.

The skill players outshined Jones, but the quarterback did his job as well with five touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Even when Smith went out, the offense barely missed a beat thanks to Jones' strong play:

ESPN @espn

Special moment to get your first career TD in the #NationalChampionship https://t.co/ojjBRQXmnV

TJ Lang @TJLang70

Mac Jones just throws dimes man. NFL teams will love his accuracy.

Dr. SEC @thedrsec

Mac Jones will never get the credit he deserves because how his receivers/running backs finish the play. You get so caught in the wow factor you miss all the little things he does.

Joel Klatt @joelklatt

No DeVonta Smith and they went right down the field...Mac Jones is a 1st round QB...guy is a stud

The Crimson Tide entered the day averaging 48.2 points per game and didn't slow down even against a tough defense. The talent and production of this unit could match almost any in college football history.


Short-Handed Ohio State Unable to Overcome Losses

Ohio State had 13 players unavailable for the game, including nose tackle Tommy Togiai, defensive end Tyreke Smith and kicker Blake Haubeil.

The situation got even worse when Sermon was injured on his first carry and brought to the hospital, per ESPN's Maria Taylor. It was a significant loss considering his impact:

Rocky Boiman @ROCKYBOIMAN50

If Sermon can’t play that’s disaster for Ohio state, he’s set the tone their last two games

Marlon Humphrey @marlon_humphrey

Hopefully Sermon is not out for Ohio State huge loss

Kyle Rowland @KyleRowland

Trey Sermon's shoulder injury is shades of the 2010 national championship game when Texas QB Colt McCoy injured his shoulder on the fifth play against Alabama, wrecking the Longhorns' title hopes.

Sermon was the Buckeyes' leading rusher this season and had been red hot with 524 rushing yards over his last two games, against Northwestern and Clemson.

And Fields played with a rib injury, so it was an uphill battle for Ohio State.

The Buckeyes still showed plenty of fight, including a pair of touchdowns by backup running back Master Teague III:

ESPN @espn

Ohio State grabs six with help from Jeremy Ruckert 👏 #NationalChampionship https://t.co/Uen2u8L1x1

ESPN @espn

TEAGUE BULLIES HIS WAY IN FOR 6 ‼️ #NationalChampionship https://t.co/xlLBQTUbey

Former Buckeye Ezekiel Elliott was rooting for Teague to break his own record:

Ezekiel Elliott @EzekielElliott

The records 4 go get it @MasterTeagueIII

Fields was quiet early but showcased his skill set to help cut the gap to 14 in the third quarter:

ESPN @espn

Justin Fields drops this in the bucket for 6️⃣ #NationalChampionship https://t.co/fZ8jV0TL2c

In the first half, Baron Browning produced a rare defensive highlight for the Buckeyes with a strip-sack:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

MAC JONES FUMBLES IT 👀 https://t.co/ZkW3T5eHwi

The Buckeyes defense simply couldn't keep up, allowing 621 yards while forcing just two punts.

We don't know if the game would have been different with Ohio State at full strength, but the team on the field fell far short in the title game.


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