MIAMI — The University of Alabama capped off a historic 2020 season in epic fashion on Monday night against Ohio State in a 52-24 rout inside Hard Rock Stadium for its 18th national championship.
"I think "perseverance" probably is the one word that describes this team the best in terms of what they've had to overcome all season long, to come undefeated and win a championship," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said on the field postgame. "I'm so proud of these guys. This was a team that was always together. Everybody bought into all the principles and values of the organization and the program. They just did a great job.
"They played together. They supported each other. This is a great team."
Wide receiver DeVonta Smith put any 'Heisman jinx' talk to bed with an all-time performance of 12 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns. College football's most outstanding player did all of his damage against the Buckeyes in the first half after suffering a hand injury in the third quarter.
His efforts earned him Offensive MVP honors.
Alabama was methodical in the opening 30 minutes, scoring on five of its first seven drives. Running back Najee Harris added two touchdowns, a 1-yard run then later a 26-yard catch on a wheel route to lead the Crimson Tide to a 35-17 halftime advantage.
On defense, Alabama was able to bottle up the Buckeyes for only 190 total yards. Ohio State's starting tailback Trey Sermon left the contest after their opening possession with a shoulder injury, forcing him to take a trip to the hospital soon afterwards.
A 20-yard field goal by Crimson Tide kicker Will Reichard and then a subsequent 20-yard touchdown pass from Justin Fields to Garrett Wilson gave the Buckeyes a glimmer of hope in the second half, cutting the deficit to 14.
Without Smith, Alabama took the ball and marched 75 yards down the field in only eight plays to find pay dirt, on a 5-yard toss from quarterback Mac Jones to Slade Bolden.
After a tackle-for-loss on fourth down from defensive lineman Christian Barmore, the Crimson Tide put the final nail in the coffin with another 1-yard touchdown run from Harris in the early stages of the fourth quarter, his 30th of the season which is an Alabama record for a non-quarterback in a single season.
Quarterback Mac Jones threw for 464 yards and five touchdowns on 36-of-45 passing. His 464 yards are a CFP National Championship Game record while those 36 completions are a Crimson Tide record.
Along with his hat trick, Harris tallied up 158 yards from scrimmage, 79 of which came on the ground and the other 79 of it through the air. He touched the ball a total of 27 times.
Alabama outgained the Buckeyes 622-341 and converted six of its 11 third-down attempts. The Crimson Tide averaged nearly eight yards a play.
Barmore was later named the Defensive MVP after recording five total tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack. Linebacker Dylan Moses was the team's leading tackler with six.
For Ohio State, Fields finished the contest completing only 17 of his 33 passes for 194 yards and a lone touchdown. He did rush for 67 yards on six carries.
In Sermon's absence, Master Teague had 15 rushing attempts for 65 yards and two touchdowns. Chris Olave was the Buckeyes leading receiver with eight catches for 69 yards on nine targets.
The win over the Buckeyes marks Saban's sixth national title since he has arrived in Tuscaloosa and seventh overall including his LSU championship from the 2003 season. That is the most for any coach in the Associated Press Poll era.
All six of the Alabama titles have come in the last 12 years. It was also the second time in the Saban era that the Crimson Tide went undefeated.
"I'm just so proud of our team," Saban said. "To go undefeated, win 11 SEC games, win the National Championship and beat two fine teams in Notre Dame and Ohio State, I can't tell you how proud I am of that."