The similarities are eerie, nearly like carbon copies of each other.
Ohio State, proficient but questioned, enters the College Football Playoff amid doubts. It is an enormous underdog. It then performs like the favourite.
This could be an outline of the present group or the 2014 workforce that received it all. Both work.
In 2014, the primary 12 months of the playoff, Ohio State entered the ultimate week of the common season ranked fifth. After bludgeoning Wisconsin, it moved as much as fourth amid controversy and surprised No. 1 Alabama within the semifinals earlier than overwhelming No. 2 Oregon within the title sport.
It was a determined underdog in each video games, similar to it was towards No. 2 Clemson on this 12 months’s Sugar Bowl and can be towards top-seeded Alabama within the nationwide championship sport on Jan. 11 in Miami.
That 2014 group was motivated by its detractors. It was an ultra-skilled group that included operating again Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa and Michael Thomas. This workforce isn’t nearly as good defensively, however it is best at quarterback — Justin Fields is a significant improve over Cardale Jones — is loaded with playmakers and simply would possibly be selecting the correct time to hit its stride.
It dominated Clemson and Trevor Lawrence, owned the road of scrimmage and was the hungrier, extra decided workforce in a shocking 49-28 victory in New Orleans. Some of that could be attributed to the loss a 12 months in the past to Clemson within the semifinals or the notion from so many — together with Tigers coach Dabo Swinney — it didn’t belong within the playoff after enjoying in simply six video games.
The Buckeyes used that as ammunition. Now, over the following eight days, Ohio State will hear about how nice undefeated Alabama is, how little probability it has as a seven-point underdog.
An identical sentiment was expressed after the Buckeyes beat Alabama within the first playoff. Oregon had simply ended Florida State’s 29-game profitable streak, was a six-point favourite and had the Heisman Trophy winner in Marcus Mariota.
It didn’t matter.
History could be repeating itself.
Below are different storylines for what has all of the making of a really intriguing championship sport:
Alabama’s DeVonta Smith has been an absolute terror all 12 months, however recently the primary large receiver to be named the Associated Press Player of the Year has taken it up a notch, catching 22 passes for 314 yards and 5 touchdowns within the season’s two largest video games, the SEC championship win over Florida and playoff victory over Notre Dame. And Ohio State’s secondary is its protection’s largest weak spot.
Highly regarded cornerback Shaun Wade has struggled in protection and the Buckeyes had been 116th within the nation in passing yards allowed per sport. This has mismatch written throughout it.
Justin Fields was the large winner within the Sugar Bowl. He did his NFL draft stock wonders by setting an Ohio State bowl report with six landing passes and outplaying Lawrence, his buddy and the doubtless No. 1 decide.
He performed by way of extreme ache, following the helmet-first hit by James Skalski to his proper facet, over the ultimate 35:57 and made everybody neglect his poor performances towards Northwestern and Indiana. It was additionally a reminder of simply how proficient Fields is, the flexibility the athletic specimen has.
The man has misplaced one sport, final 12 months’s playoff semifinal to Clemson, in 21 begins and has produced 77 touchdowns in that time. Now, he faces Alabama, with one other probability to essentially show himself within the eyes of evaluators. Prediction: Fields will again put up main numbers. This isn’t a traditional Crimson Tide protection. Remember, it was shredded by Florida and Kyle Trask just some weeks in the past.
It actually would be peak Nick Saban to reply to lacking the playoff for the primary time by going undefeated the next season with no single actually shut name. The legendary Alabama coach is one win away from changing into the primary man to win seven nationwide championships, surpassing Bear Bryant’s six.
It’s arduous to attenuate the job he’s completed this 12 months. He misplaced arguably the game’s most dynamic weapon in large receiver Jaylen Waddle to a season-ending ankle damage on Oct. 24, misplaced various gamers to the NFL — particularly quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, offensive sort out Jedrick Wills Jr., and high receivers Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III — and has the Crimson Tide again within the title sport for the seventh time in 10 seasons.
Overlooked considerably within the Sugar Bowl, after Fields’ sensible efficiency and the one-sided nature of the sport, was Ohio State’s efficiency within the trenches. They dominated Clemson, which hardly ever will get crushed up so badly up entrance.
Ohio State ran for 254 yards, allowed simply 48 yards on the bottom and harassed Lawrence many of the evening, sacked him twice and compelled him to eliminate the ball sooner than he needed.
The pure query in fact is can the Buckeyes repeat that dominance towards Alabama? Quarterback Mac Jones was sacked simply 11 instances all 12 months and the Crimson Tide offensive line is one among three finalists for the Joe Moore Award, given to the very best group within the nation. Both are very robust to run towards. More than another matchup, this could determine the following nationwide champion.