The College Football Playoff championship game is set for 8 p.m. ET Monday.
No. 1 Alabama meets No. 3 Ohio State at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. It’s a blue-blooded matchup between two rosters filled with five-star talent.
Nick Saban has a chance to win a sixth national championship with the Crimson Tide. Ryan Day is looking to win his first national title in his second full season as head coach. Both teams average more than 40 points per game. This should be every bit as thrilling as their last matchup in the 2015 Sugar Bowl.
Sporting News’ staff gives their picks for the national championship game.
CFP championship picks
Bill Bender: Alabama 37, Ohio State 34
“Rewind to that last Sugar Bowl meeting, and Alabama finished 2-of-13 on third down. The Buckeyes have the talent to match up with the Crimson Tide, and Justin Fields presents a problem for the defense. It comes down to execution in games like this, and Alabama showed how unstoppable it can be in the first half against Notre Dame. The Crimson Tide will be able to do what Clemson could not, and that’s run the football. Najee Harris’ success opens the passing game for Mac Jones, and that talented group of receivers will convert on those key third downs. It will add up in another classic thriller. The Buckeyes can win this game, especially if Trey Sermon matches Harris. Alabama, however, gets the last score-and-stop.”
Zac Al-Khateeb: Alabama 42, Ohio State 34
“Clemson was the victim of an unforeseen beatdown at the hands of Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. As thorough and cathartic as that victory was, it removes any chance of the Buckeyes catching Nick Saban and Alabama off guard. The Crimson Tide are better equipped to protect Mac Jones than Clemson was with Trevor Lawrence, and the former has no shortage of weapons in DeVonta Smith and Najee Harris — maybe even Jaylen Waddle — to put up big numbers. Justin Fields and Trey Sermon will score enough to keep the Buckeyes in it, but look for Alabama to challenge the Buckeyes’ quarterback all night. A bend-don’t-break game from the Tide defense, coupled with their terrific offense, should net Alabama the win.”
Mike DeCourcy: Ohio State 38, Alabama 35
“Can the Buckeyes stop the Tide? No. It might take a combination of ’86 Penn State, ’79 Alabama and ’01 Miami to get that job done. But Ohio State, at its best, has been nearly as impressive as an offensive force. The Buckeyes rolled over Clemson in a fashion few saw coming. It will be a greater challenge in this one, but the emergence of Trey Sermon as an overwhelming runner has empowered this team in a way even the Buckeyes didn’t see coming, and it will be more vital with Justin Fields’ midsection likely to remain tender. They’re going to have to score to win this. And at some point they’ll need a crucial stop. And getting that against the Tide’s variety of weapons will be more difficult than it was against Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers. But Ohio State can win this.
Vinnie Iyer: Alabama 44, Ohio State 34
“The Crimson Tide offense ‘cooled off’ against Notre Dame because they were in control of the game and their defense played well enough to not make the CFP semifinal a shootout. The Buckeyes were hitting on all gears with Justin Fields and Trey Sermon against Clemson, so ‘Bama will be pushed into going back to its typical offensive boom with Mac Jones, Najee Harris and DeVonta Smith. Fields won’t have it easy against a stronger D, while Jones, Harris and Smith lead the way in letting ‘Bama have its way.”
Matt Lutovsky: Alabama 38, Ohio State 31
“This game could go either way, but Alabama has the superior offensive talent and will likely be the best defense Ohio State has faced all year. There’s little reason to doubt Ohio State after what the Buckeyes just did to Clemson, but there’s even less reason to doubt a more complete Alabama team that might be getting back another dynamic weapon in Jaylen Waddle (ankle).”
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