No. 1 Alabama wins national title 52-24 over No. 3 Ohio St

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — DeVonta Smith was uncoverable, Najee Harris unstoppable and Mac Jones impeccable. With a performance that was both surgical and explosive, No. 1 Alabama won the College Football Playoff national championship game 52-24 against No. 3 Ohio State on Monday night.

The final game of a college football season in a pandemic, a season that was uncertain to be played in the summer and filled with disruptions in the fall, ended in the most predictable fashion: Alabama (13-0) as national champion for the sixth time in the last 12 years under coach Nick Saban.

For Saban, it was career title No. 7 overall, breaking a tie with Alabama great Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most by a major college coach.

“To me this is the ultimate team,” Saban said. “There is more togetherness on this team than on almost any team we’ve ever had. They’ve had to overcome and to persevere so much through this season, and they have done it magnificently.”

The celebration was at once familiar and unique. The confetti cannons sent a crimson and white shower into the air and the Tide players ran to the sideline to grab their championship hats and T-shirts. It’s a rite of passage if you have played for Saban.

But this time, the band playing the fight song was a piped in recording and when “Sweet Home Alabama” blared, only a few thousand Tide fans were still in the building to singalong.

The Buckeyes fans were mostly long gone.

Ohio State (7-1) just couldn’t keep up. Justin Fields, playing what might be his last game before heading to the NFL, passed for 194 yards and a touchdown. Whether Fields was 100% after taking a brutal hit to the side during his brilliant semifinal performance against Clemson was hard to know for sure.

On the Buckeyes’ first drive, they lost star running back Trey Sermon to an injury and in a game they needed to be running at top speed, facing one of great offenses in recent history, they sputtered too much. Ohio State has never allowed more points in a bowl game.

Fans can debate which team in the Saban dynasty is best, but none will be more memorable than this group. The Tide finished perfect during a season that could not have been further from it as COVID-19 forced teams into quarantines and endless testing and uncertainty every single week with games played in mostly empty stadiums.