2021 NCAA Football Championship Preview

by ASA, Inc.

Monday, Jan 04, 2021
OHIO STATE (7-0 / 4-3 ATS) vs ALABAMA (12-0 / 8-4 ATS) - @ Hard Rock Stadium, Miami FL
LINE – Alabama -7.5
MONEY LINE – Alabama -280 / OSU +240
TOTAL – 75
OSU PASS DEFENSE vs ALABAMA PASS OFFENSE – While the Buckeyes rolled through their shortened Big 10 winning 5 of their 6 games by double digits, their pass defense was not good.  That’s actually an understatement as OSU finished dead last in the conference in pass defense despite not facing a single QB ranked inside the top 50 in passing efficiency.  The best passing QB the Buckeyes faced was Indiana’s Michael Penix and he lit them up for 491 yards passing and 5 TD’s.  Now they face Bama’s Mac Jones who ranks as the #1 pass efficiency QB in the nation along with the deepest set of WR’s they’ve seen by far.  Despite last week’s loss, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence did complete 69% of his passes for 400 yards vs this pass defense.  HUGE EDGE TO BAMA
OSU RUSH DEFENSE vs ALABAMA RUSH OFFENSE – The Bucks rush defense was extremely impressive last week.  They completely shut down the Tigers running attack allowing only 44 yards on 22 carries.  Clemson star RB Etienne was held to 32 yards on the ground with a long of just 8 yards.  The Buckeyes are now ranked 2nd nationally defending the run allowing only 89 YPG.  The Crimson Tide faced a Notre Dame defense last week that ranks 17th vs the run and put up 140 yards rushing.  The three top 20 rush defenses that Alabama faced this season (ND, Georgia & Texas A&M) held them to 140, 147, and 109 on the ground this year on 4.1 YPC.  That’s a full 1 YPC under their season average.  EDGE OHIO STATE 
OSU PASS OFFENSE vs ALABAMA PASS DEFENSE – Justin Fields was lights out vs Clemson throwing for 385 yards and 13.8 yards per attempt.  He also threw for 6 TD’s and had a QBR of 99.  His 13.8 yards per attempt and 99 QBR were by far the best numbers the Clemson defense has allowed this season.  We’ll have to keep a close eye on the info coming out of Columbus this week as Fields sustained a rib injury vs the Tigers and while he continued to play, he did say it was very painful and affected his throwing motion.  Bama limited Irish QB Ian Book to 229 yards passing and a QBR of 72.  For comparison’s sake, Book passes for 219 yards with a QBR of 60 just 2 weeks earlier.  That’s the same Clemson pass defense that was shredded by Fields.  The Tide faced 2 other QB’s this year ranked in the top 10 in efficiency, Florida’s Kyle Trask and Mississippi’s Matt Corral.  Trask went for 408 yards on 10.2 yards per attempt with 3 TD’s and QBR of 91.6.  Corral put up 365 yards passing on 13.0 yards per attempt with 2 TD’s and a QBR of 96.  EDGE OHIO STATE IF FIELDS IS HEALTHY
OSU RUSH OFFENSE vs ALABAMA RUSH DEFENSE – OSU’s rushing attack has really kicked it into high gear over their 2 games.  In the Big 10 Championship game vs Northwestern they ran the ball for 399 yards on over 9.0 YPC.  They followed that up by hitting Clemson for 254 yards rushing on nearly 6.0 YPC.  Those efforts were against two very solid defenses as Northwestern has allowed 4.4 YPC on the year and Clemson just 3.0 YPC.  Starting RB Trey Sermon has done most of the damage with 524 yards rushing in those 2 games.  His backup Master Teague is injured and did not play vs Clemson.  The Buckeyes rush offense now ranks 5th nationally.  They take on a Bama defense that allows just 110 YPG on the ground ranking them 13th.  Last week they allowed Notre Dame to gain 139 YPG on the ground, well below their season average of 211 YPG.  The Irish rank 24th in rushing and they were the best running team the Tide have faced this season.  The 2 best SEC running teams they faced were Texas A&M (27th nationally) and Ole Miss (26th) and the Bama defense has mixed results in those games.  They held the Aggies to just over 100 yards rushing but the Rebels gashed them for 268.  That game vs Ole Miss was early in the season and Alabama’s defense has improved drastically since them.  EDGE EVEN
CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY – It’s been a mix of close calls & blowouts in the CFP National Championship game.  There have been 6 championship games played since the CFP started with three of those games being decided by 5 points or less and the other three decided by 17 or more.  Alabama has won 2 of those National Championship games in 2016 & 2018 while Ohio State won the inaugural game in 2015.  Bama comes in as the #1 seed and OSU is the #3 seed.  Only one top seed has won the title and that was last season when LSU topped Clemson 42-25.  No #3 seed has ever won the National Championship.
AGAINST THE SPREAD – Last year was the first time the favorite (LSU) covered in the National Championship game.  The dog is 5-1 ATS.  It’s also been a high scoring game with the OVER going 5-1 with the average total points scored at 65.  The teams combined to score at least 60 points in 5 of the 6 championship games with the highest scoring game being 85 (Clemson 45, Bama 40) and the lowest being 49 (Bama 26, Georgia 23).  The current total on this game is 75 which is the highest ever set in the National Championship game.

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