#1 Alabama vs #3 Ohio State: National Title Game Preview, Odds, FYIs

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The next college football champion will be crowned Monday night, in Miami, when #1 Alabama and #3 Ohio State square off in the national title game. If this match-up feels familiar, even redundant, it’s because it definitely is.

The Crimson Tide are first in College Football Playoff games played (10) and games won (7). They’re tied with Clemson (2) for most titles won in this format. The Buckeyes are third in CFP games played (5), and they’ve gone 3-2 overall, winning the very first final four in 2014. In other words, this is a matchup of “they’ve been there before.”

Betting Info

This title game has already set one record- highest over/under at 75. If you’re looking to bet the total, a select number can be found here of online casinos taking action on that. Bama are favored heavily, as expected, in this one. The Tide can be had for -7.5, with a moneyline of -275.

Viewing Info

ESPN will again be broadcasting the game, in primetime, with numerous different formats, more than you’d ever want to even consider knowing about, across their family of networks. Check out their apps or site for more on that, but it all starts around 8 eastern, 7 central.

Injury, Health Updates

Their had been reports of a potential delay, due to some COVID-19 issued within the OSU program. Right now, it’s game on.

“I can tell you there are no changes,” College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock told ESPN. “The game is scheduled for Jan. 11 as planned, and we look forward to it.”

If Ohio State has had another outbreak, head coach Ryan Day has not conveyed that in his media opps, at least not yet. Day also said that quarterback supreme Justin Fields is expected to play. Field took a nasty shot to the ribs in the Sugar Bowl, but stayed in, partially due to the help of an injection.

He was noticeably in pain, on every throw, but he stuck it out, and showed a ton of moxie in doing so. On the Alabama side, head coach Nick Saban said that WR Jaylen Waddle could return in time to play for this one.

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Players to Watch

Fields, despite all the pain, threw six TDs against Clemson, and look for him to come up big again here. His tailback, Trey Sermon could end up being one of the best Buckeye backs ever, and that really says something, given the school’s extremely rich and Heisman trophy filled history at the position.

Speaking of the Heisman, Alabama brings half of the trophy finalists to Miami in QB Mac Jones and WR DeVonta Smith. Either are deserving of the award, as both have absolutely shattered numerous Tide and SEC passing and receiving records. Smith should, and likely more deservingly than anyone else, claim the trophy.

For the first time in awhile, we have a pass-first Alabama juggernaut, instead of an offense that’s usually built around the best running back in the nation.

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Major Storyline

Lack of parity has been a major issue in college football for quite some time, and it’s only getting worse each year. Alabama has made the playoff every year is has existed except one (2019). The same goes for Clemson, who only missed out on the very first one.

Only six programs — the aforementioned three plus Georgia, LSU and Oregon — have won CFP games and only 11 have even qualified. Bama and Clemson have had such a duopoly lately that the whole endeavor teems with tedium. Even ESPN, who are totally in bed with the CFP, published an article on the staleness of it all.

The main problem is that the same school usually wins its conference every year for much of the power five. Competitive balance has long been an issue in the sport, but the gap between the haves and have nots as never been as stark as it is now.

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Prediction: Alabama: 38, Ohio State 33

The Tide is high but I’m holding on, to the Buckeyes covering. Not a backdoor cover like Notre Dame had against them in the semifinal, with a late garbage time touchdown, but actually keeping it close.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of  “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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