Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo MESPORTS SOUTH
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Bienvenidos a Miami! What a storyline this college football season has been In less than an hour two of the most storied powerhouses of the sport will meet in Miami to culminate a long journey to the national championship. The No.1 Alabama Crimson made sure everyone would remember the Rose bowl for they did win. While many teams have been able to hang with the Tide and unmask their weaker spots no one has yet to rattle them enough to take them down. Will that blue-collar grit of the #3 Ohio State Buckeyes finally be able to have the gridiron kryptonite to stop the Tides roll tonight.
Tonight’s final chapter is one filled with star power and excitement just how you want a national championship. Not to mention has the potential to be the stage for alot of historical and record-setting moments. It’s been a heck of a ride and boy have we come along way baby especially during this season. Unfortunately, one team will leave Miami the victor so what’s it going to take to bring it on a home?
Keys To The Championship
Solidify special teams: This is a part of the game that sometimes seems to not be as crucial to the eye test but that is far from reality. As we have seen especially in this season a clutch special team’s performance can shift the momentum of the game from field position to scoring drives. Like I said while Alabama has remained unscathed and stands at 12-0 it doesn’t mean they are free from error or vulnerabilities. The Tide ranks 106th out of 127 in net punting, 119th in kick-off returns. Bama will need to keep it on an even and balance level on special teams so it will work for not against them. What works for them obviously is having Devonta Smith receiving accounting for 24 yards on nine of his punt returns. Expect Will Richard to also play a factor if it gets close. Richard has been clutch on making all 13 of his field-goal attempts.
Jam up Justin: Everyone knows what an elite passed Fields is and his arm is like a cannon. He has precision, poise, arm strength, and ball placement, and know-hows to stretch the field. However, what sometimes alot forget to address is his crazy speed and mobility which could be dangerous for Alabama if he gets in the groove and will be one of the most speedy QBs the Rammer Jammers will have faced to date. Day has also been great at creating opportunities to make Fields a threat in the air and on the ground. They need to limit his mobility quickly and the early worst thing they can do it let him get in a rhythm and find open targets. The Clemson game showed just how well he could operate even after taking sustaining some strong hits. Expect the Tide to blitz on passing downs and let him take some hits.
Keeping rolling and glide like a 747: The Alabama offense is built like a brick house from every angle possible. Everyone does their job and does it well from Mac Jones to the line providing a wall of steel and of course that backfield with the cast with Najee Harris, Heisman Trophy winner, DeVonta Smith, and perhaps the long-awaited Jaylen Waddle. You know as Ric Flair would say what ever they put out it’s going to be “Wooooo.” They just know how to embarrass a defense and gel as a unit to wear a team down. So they need to keep up that style in controlling the tempo and keep pounding down from the jump especially on the offense. No defense has been able to stop and successfully slow down Bama and its for a reason. On top of that, they need to play precisely and continue to play error and penalty-free. Focus! Focus! Focus.
Slow the Buckeyes role limit their lifelines: The Alabama defense is good but again has shown it has vulnerabilities like being able to have the ball moved on them. We saw it done by Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss pretty damn good. You can bet that Coach Day is going to try to beat Bama in the air but also incorporate the speedsters it has at the WR and RB position. The Alabama defense will undoubtedly have a great focus on Ohio States’ Chris Olave and Garret Wilson. This duo is one of the best-receiving pairs in the nation and damn quick which makes them difficult to defend. You can also bet that RB Trey Sermon will be put in the mix to add some explosive plays and come to clean the house quickly. The defense is going to need to make sure they don’t put all their efforts solely into stopping Olave and Wilson or Sermon will slip through and cause some problems for the defense especially running the ball on them. While this is not the vintage Alabama defense that we have seen in past years that was unstoppable don’t count them out. One of the strong points for this defense has been where they have come up big is getting their opponents in 3rd and long situations which have succeeded in disrupting their opponents’ offensive flow. Play hard and make big stops!
Keep Fields Mobile: Justin Fields has shown he can be a threat in the passing game and can perform even under injury to come up clutch for his offense. Tonight will be no different and you can bet that Coach Day will also utilize Fields immense mobility to even stretch the field more on the ground. The key will be to balance his mobility through the air and on the ground to help move the ball on Alabama quickly. Once Fields gets going man he can do some damage on the scoreboard fast.
Summon Sermon: Everyone has been talking about the speeders Ohio State has at the wide receiver position in Olave and Wilson. However, you can bet one of the x-factors in beating Alabama will come from running back Trey Sermon. Not only does he pose a running threat but he also creates a bit of relief on pressure for fields to be sole in carrying the Buckeyes offense to victory. Sermon is sizeable back at 6-foot-1 and 215 lbs. He’s light on his feet and has an insanely good cutting ability. He is is fast, physical;l and athletic enough to clean the house in the backfield and make be a dangerous threat on running the ball on an often weaker Alabama defense. Incorporating him will open up an array of opportunities if they can commit to him.
Dominant and dissect the Bama backfield: The secondary has been a sore spot for the Buckeyes in some key moments in their regulars season. Most notably against the Hooisers when they allowed their QB Michael Penix Jr. to go to town for 500 yards. Bama has got the moves and the depth in the backfield to chaos to any defense. You can bet all eyes will be set on DeVonta Smith and if that was enough they also may have to face Jaylon Waddle through the course of this game too. They need to make sure in any type of passing situations especially on third downs they put Mac Jones in a tough spot and make it difficult for him to get to his key life in Smith or Waddle tonight.
One of the strongest chances for Ohio State to come out of this one the winner is the tempo. They have a stout offensive line-the run game has been consistent, their pass protection has been clutch. Again, it is obvious the skill set is there but it will come down to how they utilize them via the tempo if the results will be in their favor. It’s not so much Day calling for Fields and company to operate in hurry up and no-huddle situations that changed key moments in the games they played this season. Rather it was the fact is the confusion they were able to cause defenses by manipulating the clock as a result of properly using the tempo. One of the toughest things to defend and prepare for facing the Crimson Tide is their depth and ability to be balanced. Nick Saban and his staff believe me have crafted a way to navigate to the toughest situations especially in this sort of setting. Again, you can’t outright stop the Tide but you have to keep up with them. The Buckeyes will need to come to the gate running and keep doing it for four quarters tonight. If they can pull ahead in the first half of this game it puts the Tide in a position of discomfort and unfamiliarity which again has shown in the past a means to unmask some fo the vulnerabilities of Nick Sabana and Alabama.
This is the culmination of one of the craziest times not just of the game but of our country. There will be alot beyond stats and accolades that will play in this game and it will show. Whoever, you are rooting for tonight one thing is for certain you can’t tell me that either of the teams doesn’t have the heart and the passion to change the storyline just a few more times. Tonight, while the Buckeyes possess all the right tools to hang with Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson. At the end of the day Alabama finds a way to close the game and has been building on this return for a while. So as the Bear would say, “If you want to walk the heavenly streets of gold, you gotta know the password, ‘Roll, Tide, Roll.” Alabama closes in Miami 45- 41 over the Buckeyes.