The stage has officially been set for the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship.
After punching their tickets to Miami in dominant fashion on Saturday, the No. 1 seed Alabama Crimson Tide and No. 3 seed Ohio State Buckeyes will face off on January 11 inside Hard Rock Stadium.
Led by Heisman finalist Justin Fields, the Buckeyes exploded against No. 2 Clemson en route to a 49-28 victory in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The junior QB outdueled fellow highly-touted prospect Trevor Lawrence and finished the nightcap with a career-high 385 yards (22-of-28), six (!) touchdowns, an interception and Offensive MVP honors.
Lawrence also had a big day in just the second loss of his tremendous career, completing 33 of 48 pass attempts for 400 yards, two TDs and a pick. OSU running back Trey Sermon deserves a shout out as well for his incredible night, rushing 31 times for 193 yards and a touchdown.
A thunderous hit from Tigers safety James Skalski to Fields’ ribs as he scrambled his way up field in the second quarter temporarily threatened to keep OSU’s star signal-caller off the field for an extended amount of time.
Skalski, who was ejected for targeting in last season’s CFP title game, was disqualified for the same infraction while Fields missed just one play before returning to throw a TD to receiver Chris Olave to put Ohio State up 28-14. Fields was noticeably in discomfort for the remainder of the contest, but avenging his program’s heartbreaking loss to Clemson a year ago probably lessened the pain to a certain extent.
Fields’ health will be something to watch in the days ahead as the Buckeyes prepare to take on a Crimson Tide team that handled No. 4 Notre Dame earlier in the day.
Quarterback Mac Jones and receiver DeVonta Smith, Alabama’s pair of Heisman hopefuls, continued their sensational seasons in the Tide’s 31-14 win against the Fighting Irish in the Rose Bowl Game.
Jones went 25-of-30 for 297 yards and four TDs and enjoyed a relatively clean pocket for the duration. Smith compiled a seven-catch, 130-yard, three-TD stat line and took home Offensive MVP honors for his effort.
Running back Najee Harris, who finished fifth in Heisman voting, stormed his way to 125 yards (and a ridiculous hurdle) on 15 carries.
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