Ohio State downs Alabama to advance to national title game against Oregon The No. 4 Buckeyes showed tremendous grit and resilience in holding off No. 1 ranked Alabama in a 42-35 contest that wasn’t quite as close as the score indicated.
The Bucks overcame an early 15 point deficit and a Cardale Jones pick that was eventually converted into a touchdown to never trail again after taking the lead in the second half with the help of a daunting run game and two interception of their own. Alabama had three touchdowns to Ohio State’s two field goals despite being outgained 2 to 1 in total yardage thanks to an untimely fumble by Ezekiel Elliott and an interception by Jones each of which preceded touchdown drives by the Crimson Tide.
However, despite being pinned deep to start most of their drives, the Buckeyes were able to move down the field at will when it counted. The Big Ten heavyweights romped to a 13 point lead capped off by a 41 yard pick-six before Alabama was able to respond, narrowing the gap at 34-28 going into the fourth quarter. Down by a touchdown, the Tide’s vaunted defense orchestrated a series of impressive stops, forcing three three-and-outs to avert a two-score lead for the Buckeyes, but at the same time, the offense stagnated with Sims throwing a pick on the very first play of one drive.
With less than five minutes left to play, Ezekiel Elliott atoned for his fumble and then some, gashing Bama’s normally staunch run defense with an 85 yard touchdown. The Tide managed to answer back, but without appropriate urgency, pulling within seven after Amari Cooper’s second touchdown of the day and turning the ball over to Ohio State with two minutes left to play. Following some questionable clock management, Alabama received one final shot at tying the game but Sims threw a deep ball that was picked off in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter.
The Tide offense came up short of its usual standards with T.J Yeldon averaging less than five yards per carry, though Derrick Henry did manage a touchdown and 95 yards on 13 carries. Aside from the quarterback, no Tide player broke the triple-digit threshold for all-purpose yards. Cooper, one of the best receivers in the country did reel in two touchdowns on the day, but Ohio State’s pick-six resulted in part thanks to Sims’ fixation on the former Heisman candidate. ‘
Sims was responsible for a touchdown to counter each of his three turnovers but averaged less than three yards a carry and was sacked three times in the game. Cardale Jones did his part to secure the win, rushing for 27 yards on one series to keep the drive alive. He also totaled 243 yards through the air and 47 yard Devin Smith touchdown, but at the end of the day, Ezekiel Elliott was without a doubt the key playmaker for Ohio State. Elliott embarrassed the famed Bama run defense, accumulating a Sugar Bowl record 230 yards on 20 attempts along with two touchdowns. Evan Spencer also provided a highlight reel on a trick play that resulted in a tiptoeing touchdown for Michael Thomas.
Alabama will travel home disappointed at the outcome a game they were favored to win but no less elite in falling short to an excellent team coached by a man with a resume to rival Nick Saban’s. Ohio State will need to make some serious adjustments on defense to avoid a similar shootout against a white-hot Oregon offense in what should be an excellent national title game.