No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 1 Alabama

No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 1 Alabama | 2021 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Written by on January 8, 2021

The 2020 college football season comes to an end Monday night when top-ranked Alabama looks to close out a dominant, unbeaten season as a solid favorite on the college football odds against No. 4 Ohio State, also unbeaten, from Miami.

How to Bet Ohio State vs. Alabama NCAA Football Odds & TV Info
  • When: Monday, 8 PM ET
  • Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami
  • TV: ESPN
  • Stream: ESPN app
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAF Lines: Alabama -8 (total 75)
Last Meeting

The schools played in the first-ever College Football Playoff semifinals following the 2014 season. The top-ranked Tide were 7.5-point favorites over the No. 4 Buckeyes, but Ohio State won 42-35 on the way to the national championship. Ezekiel Elliott ran for a Sugar-Bowl record 230 yards – of course, he’s now a star with the Dallas Cowboys. Urban Meyer was OSU’s coach then.

Alabama leads the all-time series, 3-1, with wins in the Kickoff Classic at the Meadowlands (35-6 in 1978 and 16-10 in 1986) and in the Florida Citrus Bowl in 1995 (24-17). Ohio State is 3-2 all-time in its four CFP appearances (2015, 2017, 2019, 2021). Alabama is 7-3 in the CFP and has been in six of the seven playoffs.

Why Bet on Ohio State? | 2021 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Ohio State (7-0) was a 7.5-point dog in the Sugar Bowl semifinal vs. No. 2 Clemson on New Year’s Day but upset the Tigers 49-28 behind a huge game from Justin Fields. He tied the school record for touchdown passes with six scores for 385 yards, while running back Trey Sermon had 252 total yards, including 191 on the ground, with a touchdown. He also just missed having a long touchdown as he was ruled down on a swing pass.

Chris Olave returned to action with six catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Olave was unable to play in the Big Ten championship against Northwestern, and the Ohio State passing game struggled. Against Clemson, Olave caught a nine-yard touchdown to give the Buckeyes a 28-14 lead, and he caught a 56-yard pass from Fields a quarter later to make it 42-28.

Steady offense and sturdy defensive play highlighted by a late-quarter interception by Sevyn Banks sealed the win as Ohio State punched its ticket to their fifth national title game in the BCS/Playoff era. Ohio State totaled 639 of total offense vs. the Clemson defense, the Buckeyes held Clemson to just 44 rush yards. The Buckeyes also collected two sacks and forced three fumbles, one of which they recovered.

Fields is currently second on Ohio State’s career TD pass list with 62. In the Sugar Bowl win, he passed Bobby Hoying, who threw 57 from 1992-95. J.T. Barrett holds the Ohio State and Big Ten record with 104. Fields’ 5,179 career passing yards at Ohio State ranks No. 11 in program history.

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day has guided the program into consecutive CFP appearances for the first time in school history. The Buckeyes are 23-1 overall under Day, including a 10-1 record against AP Top 25 ranked teams and a 5-1 mark vs. Top 10 teams.

Why Bet on Alabama? | 2021 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Alabama (12-0) easily handled No. 4 Notre Dame 31-14 in the Rose Bowl semifinal on New Year’s Day. Wide receiver DeVonta Smith, the Offensive Player of the Game, caught seven passes for 130 yards, tying the Rose Bowl record and setting the Alabama bowl mark with three receiving touchdowns. Smith won the Heisman Trophy on Tuesday.

Smith leads the nation in receptions (105), receiving yards (1,641), receiving touchdowns (20) and all-purpose yards (1,912). Has been dominant in the Crimson Tide’s five games against ranked opponents, totaling 46 receptions for 715 yards and nine touchdowns.

Smith joined running backs Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015) as the third player in Alabama history to win the Heisman Trophy. The honor makes Smith the first non-quarterback to win the Heisman since Henry in 2015. He is also the first wide receiver to win the Heisman since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991.

Mac Jones, who finished third in the Heisman voting, went 25-for-30 and threw for 297 yards with four touchdowns vs. the Irish. Najee ran for 125 yards on just 15 attempts, while adding 30 receiving yards on four catches. Alabama totaled 437 yards of offense, including 297 receiving and 140 rushing, while the defense held the Irish to just two rushing touchdowns.

Alabama is now 5-1-1 in Rose Bowl games and 7-3 in CFP pairings with the seven wins being the most by any program since the inception of the Playoff in 2014. Alabama will be making its eighth appearance in a national championship game during the College Football Playoff and BCS era. The Crimson Tide hold a 5-2 mark in those matchups, including a 2-2 record in CFP National Championship Games and a 3-0 mark in the BCS National Championship.

Alabama will be playing in its 11th postseason game in the city of Miami and has gone 6-4. The Tide are 93-50-4 (.646) all-time in 147 neutral site contests and 2-0 this year.

It’s possible Coach Nick Saban will get back stellar receiver Jaylen Waddle from injury for this game. Waddle suffered a combination of a high ankle sprain and fracture against Tennessee in mid-October, and he has not appeared in a game since but has been practicing. The junior opened this season with at least 120 yards receiving in each of the first four games and led Alabama with 557 yards on just 25 catches, with four touchdowns.

Nick Saban is a combined 31-17-1 (.643) in 49 career games against Big Ten opponents. That record includes a 23-15-1 mark at Michigan State, a 1-1 record at LSU and a 7-1 record while at Alabama.

Game Trends
  • Buckeyes are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games as an underdog.
  • Buckeyes are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 bowl games.
  • Buckeyes are 19-7 ATS in their last 26 games as an underdog.
  • Crimson Tide are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games following a ATS loss.
  • Crimson Tide are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 vs. Big Ten.
  • Crimson Tide are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games.
  • Crimson Tide are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games in January.
Expert Prediction
  • Alabama 45, Ohio State 33

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