The College Football Playoff National Championship game ran its course yesterday and Nick Saban has one more reason to be excited. The head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, who went into the game as the number-one team in NCAA football, had no trouble making quick work of the Ohio State Buckeyes, leading his team to a 13-0 season. This was the sixth title collected by Saban and the Crimson Tide, and established the team as possibly the best team ever.
Roll Tide, Roll
Alabama went into the game as the heavy favorites, getting around -330 at most books. They showed why, too, as soon as they took the field, putting on an offensive display that the Buckeyes could never counter. Despite having to play without a couple of normal starters, the Crimson Tide had enough depth – and quarterback Mac Jones – to prove to be too much of a powerhouse. Wide receiver Devonta Smith, who just won the Heisman Trophy, and running back Najee Harris were virtually unstoppable, helping their team amass 621 offensive yards.
Saban said of Smith following the game, “I heard somebody say he set some kind of record in the first half of the game, heavens knows what he would have done if he played the whole game. But you’re talking about the ultimate warrior, ultimate competitor. I’m so happy for him that he was recognized as the best player in college football because I don’t think anybody’s done more for their team than he has for our team.”
The coach was right – Smith caught 12 of his first 13 passes and picked up 215 yards. He would ultimately leave the game due to a hand injury, but not before scoring three touchdowns. Harris, who joins Smith as one of the few players to have been with Alabama the last time they played a national title game, added 178 yards from scrimmage, splitting the total evenly between catches and runs. Not to be outdone by Smith, he also picked up three touchdowns.
Mac Turns Up The Heat
Jones was on fire, as well, throwing for 464 yards and adding five touchdowns as the Crimson Tide pushed the scoreboard in their favor over and over. The final score was 52-24, a clear indication of Alabama’s dominance throughout the contest. It was the most the team has ever put up in a national title game and is the best the team has ever seen in any bowl game since 1953.
Saban was especially proud of his team, having fought in one of the strangest football seasons of modern times because of COVID-19. He stated, “I think especially in this year, with all the disruptions, no spring practice, really no summer ball at all of any sort to develop players, no games where you could play other players and develop players on the team. I think this, based on the circumstances, this team has really accomplished a lot, to be able to do what they did.”
Saban The Next Bryant?
Saban hasn’t just won with Alabama; he was at the helm when LSU took its BCS title in 2003. While some may not yet be ready to make the claim, more football fans now have to acknowledge that Saban is at least on the same level as former Crimson Tide Coach Bear Bryant, a man who is almost singlehandedly responsible for the popularity of college football today. Saban doesn’t feel he deserves to be put in that class (yet), but his players do.
Jones said after the game, “Come on, man. Of course he is,” Jones said. “How could he not be? He does it the right way. He recruits well, but more importantly develops great players and young men. I’m just so blessed that he gave me a chance to come here along with all my teammates. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. He’s the greatest to ever do it. He’ll be the greatest for a long time.”