Devonta Smith’s journey at Alabama ended the way it began four short years ago. The small town kid from Louisiana ended a record-breaking, Heisman season by bringing another national championship to Tuscaloosa.
The first wide receiver to win college football’s most prestigious award since 1991 went out with a career game. Smith caught 12 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns in the first half and wasn’t needed after halftime, but was forced out due to a wrist injury. He finished off one of the most productive seasons in history by leading the top-ranked Alabama to a 52-24 win over No. 3 Ohio State on Monday night in the National Championship game.
The senior wide receiver, who can return to Tuscaloosa but is likely to enter next April’s NFL Draft, finished the season with 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. A second championship for Smith, who committed to Alabama over seven SEC teams and Clemson.
A seventh overall for Nick Saban including a 2003 Championship at LSU before a brief coaching stint in the NFL. Alabama (13-0) claimed a sixth national champion in the last 12 years under Saban. It’s also the third for the Crimson Tide in the Playoff era, the most by any school. Saban came into the game tied with Bear Bryant for the most titles in history with six, but now stands alone in the category ahead of the former late Alabama coach.
A near flawless performance by Mack Jones who completing 36-of-45 for 464 yards and five touchdowns. The tide QB wrapped up the season as a Heisman finalist with 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns to four interceptions.
The Buckeyes (7-1) haven’t won a title since 2014.
A back-and-forth affair early between the college football powerhouse programs. Both teams got out of the first quarter tied at seven before Alabama lit up the scoreboard with 28 points in the second quarter. A 5-yard grab by Smith gave the Tide a 14-7 lead on the first play of the quarter.
Ohio State worked to tie the score at 14 midway through the 2nd quarter, but couldn’t hold off the attack of Smith, Jones and Najee Harris. The experienced running back tore through the Buckeyes defense with a 26-yard pass from Jones. Harris’ first of two scores on the night that gave Alabama a 21-14 lead with 9:00 to go in the 2nd quarter. Jones and Smith would add two scores right before halftime. A 5-yard catch at the 3:19 mark, along with a 42-yard strike under two minutes to increase Alabama’s halftime lead to 35-17.
Without Smith throughout most of the second half, the Tide rolled with a stout defensive effort by holding OSU dual-threat QB Justin Field to 261 total yards. Trey Sermon was lost to an injury on the Buckeyes first drive. The much-needed boost of having the star running back was a setback OSU struggled to overcome as the game went on.
Ohio State has never allowed more points in a bowl game.
In a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, college football fans are left to wonder if this was Saban’s best team at Alabama. Only about 15,000 fans were in attendance at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Fla. to see history being made. About one-fifth of the normal capacity of 65,323.