After a long and arduous 2020 season littered with cancellations, we are down to the final game. The No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0) take on the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0) in Miami on Monday, Jan. 11. The storylines are in full swing for this one. Ohio State wasn’t supposed to play this season, along with the rest of the Big Ten, and didn’t begin their regular season until late October. After playing just six regular season games, their worthiness of being selected for the playoff came into question. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney even ranked the team 11th on his final coaches’ poll. Here we will look at Ohio State vs Alabama odds and provide a full betting preview of the 2021 National Title game.
Both teams blew the doors off their semifinal opponents. Alabama beat No. 4 Notre Dame 31-14 in the Rose Bowl (held at AT&T Stadium in Texas) while Ohio State beat No. 2 Clemson 49-28 for the first time in the school’s history.
The Tide’s road to the championship was with little resistance as their only game decided by less than two scores was the SEC title game against Florida. Ohio State, on the other hand, had their hands full with both Indiana and Northwestern this season.
The last time these two played, the No. 4 Buckeyes upset No. 1 Alabama on the back of Ezekiel Elliott en route to their famous 2014-15 championship. It’s a matchup that’s sure to bring fireworks as the two indisputable best two teams in college football clash.
Sportsbook offers and odds boosts for the National Championship game
FanDuel Sportsbook has a great offer for Monday night’s title game as it has boosted the Alabama moneyline from -310 to -110. To take advantage of this offer from FanDuel now, go here.
DraftKings Sportsbook has several odds boosts including Alabama and Ohio State to go to overtime (now +1070) and Over 20.5 combined points in the first quarter (now +120). Take advantage of these odds boosts from DraftKings now by going here.
Ohio State vs Alabama odds and analysis
Looking at current Ohio State vs Alabama odds, the Crimson Tide opened as 7.5-point favorites after decimating nearly every opponent on their slate this year. The over/under for this game is set at a high points. National Championships have gone Over the point total four times (out of six since the CFP began), Under one time, and pushed once.
The current over/under mark is the second-highest point total in National Championship game history (the 2014-15 game between Ohio State and Oregon was set at 75 – which went Under).
The previous matchup between Ohio State and Alabama in 2015 saw No. 4 Ohio State as a 7.5-point underdog, a game in which the Buckeyes pulled off the 42-35 upset behind 230 rushing yards from Elliott. The Over hit on the point total (which was set at 57.5).
Here are key Ohio State vs. Alabama odds and betting metrics to pay attention to for the 2021 National Title game:
- Ohio State is 4-3 ATS this season (including 1-0 in the CFP) and 4-2-1 against the point total (1-0 in the CFP).
- Alabama is 8-4 ATS this season (including 1-0 in the CFP) and 7-5 against the point total (0-1 in the CFP).
- Both teams are undefeated this season (20-0 combined record) and 7-0 against ranked teams. Alabama is 4-0 against ranked opponents (in the CFP rankings after the semifinal) while Ohio State is 3-0.
- Ohio State is 1-0 ATS as an underdog this season (CFP Semifinal against Clemson) while Alabama is 7-4 ATS when at least a 7.5-point favorite this season.
- Alabama is 3-1 straight up against Ohio State all time, all of which have come in postseason play.
With the talent that each roster has, this will be a game that comes down to playmakers. Both teams are elite in offensive categories (both rushing and passing), take care of the football, and are capable of moving the line of scrimmage. Whichever team’s playmakers step-up more will be the team that wins this year’s national title.
Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith finished the 2020 season with 20 receiving touchdowns despite being the No. 2 receiver through the first four games (to Jaylen Waddle – out for season with injury). He is the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.
Smith will take on All-American corner Shaun Wade in the National Title game, which could present a mismatch for the Buckeyes. Smith has a step on Wade in the 40-yard dash (4.40 vs 4.48) while both players stand at 6-foot-1. Smith has been college football’s best player this season, gashing teams for 15.6 yards per catch.
Justin Fields leads Ohio State on the back of a remarkable 385-yard, six-touchdown performance against Clemson (both career highs). Fields’ health is worth keeping an eye on, as he took a vicious hit in the semifinal game that appeared to leave him with a painful rib injury (the extent of which is not known). Fields also played the Clemson game with a throwing thumb injury. He is not expected to miss the game, but it could impact his performance.
Alabama’s pass defense is playing one of its worst seasons in program history, allowing 242.9 yards per game (82nd) and a 120 passer rating (20th). Patrick Surtain II was named a first-team All-American corner this season for the Tide, but the rest of the secondary has struggled this season. Their 11.4 yards allowed per completion is 40th, which could be taken advantage of by Ohio State, which is 29th in yards per completion (13.5).
Alabama will have its hands full against the Buckeyes’ wide receiver corps, led by Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Olave and Wilson both made the coaches’ All-Conference team for the 2020-21 season and could create matchup problems for Alabama this week.
Heisman finalist Mac Jones will also be looking to exploit a Ohio State secondary that’s given up 11.4 yards per completion (t-40th) and a 113.7 opposing passer rating (59th). The Buckeyes’ secondary has struggled with tackling and has been burned over the top this year. Jones leads the FBS in yards per attempt (11.3) and completion percentage (77%).
While the headlines focus on the passing game for this one, both teams feature outstanding running backs as well. Alabama’s Najee Harris leads the nation in rushing touchdowns (24) and ranked third in rushing yards (1,387). Harris also has 10 career receiving touchdowns (three this season), making him a dual threat against Ohio State linebackers Pete Werner and Tuf Borland.
Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon leads the Buckeyes in rushing, ranking fifth in the nation in yards per carry (7.5). Sermon picked up an Ohio State-record 331 yards in the Big Ten Championship Game and followed it up with 193 yards in the CFP Semifinal. Sermon’s late-season push is reminiscent of Elliott’s in 2014-15, where he averaged 232 yards per game in the Big Ten title game and the CFP. With the 2015 Sugar Bowl still on Alabama’s mind, Sermon will be a major focus in the defensive gameplan.
This game should be a high-flying, high-scoring, exciting ballgame that could culminate in the best game of the season. Should Ohio State be able to keep up with Alabama’s scoring, the stat sheet will be filled quickly.
How to watch
ESPN will air the 2020-21 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, Jan. 11.
The game will also be cast on several ESPN derivatives, featuring radio calls for each team, Spanish language, coaches analysis, and All-22. The game can be streamed on the WatchESPN app and on ESPN+.
The inaugural CFP National Championship Game between Ohio State and Oregon was the highest-rated title game at 18.6 and also the most-watched with over 34.6 million viewers. The second-most watched title game was the 2017-18 title game between Alabama and Georgia.