Game Prediction: No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes

Here's what the BuckeyesNow staff thinks about the College Football Playoff National Championship game on Monday night. Will they pick the Buckeyes to beat the top-ranked Crimson Tide?
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After a week of analyzing this matchup from every angle, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Alabama Crimson Tide are just about ready to decide on the field which team is the 2020 College Football Playoff National Champion.

Will Alabama win it's third CFP title and its sixth national championship the last 12 year? Or will the Buckeyes pull even with the Tide and with Clemson for two titles each in the CFP era?

Ohio State is playing in a national title game for the fifth time in program history, all in the last 19 years.

Here's what a few of our staff members think about Monday's game:

Brendan Gulick, BuckeyesNow on SI Publisher

It's really hard to step back and look at the big picture when you're involved in the moment, but this has been an amazing season for so many reasons. The things this team has gone through to get to this point is simply remarkable. They've inspired a fan base and a nation through some extremely difficult moments.

I'm convinced Monday night's game is going to be an absolute slugfest. I think there's a good reason why the over/under for this championship game will probably end up being the highest in college football championship game history. That's not to say that either defense is incapable of shining in big moments - I just think these two offenses are that good. They both have the star-power, they both have huge, strong, athletic offensive linemen and both quarterbacks have made far more good decisions than bad ones. 

It's going to take a turnover in a key spot to swing momentum on Monday night, or maybe a red zone stand to force a field goal instead of surrendering a touchdown. But when push comes to shove, it's about who wants it more. I know Alabama has played more games and had more "live reps." But I give the edge to the team who had everything taken away from them, fought just to have a season, had their rivalry game cancelled and have listened to millions of people counting them out the last couple weeks.

I think this game will go down as one of the all-time great national championship games in college football history - a perfect way to end a wildly imperfect journey.

Final Score Prediction: Ohio State 45, Alabama 42

Jarrod Kilburn, BuckeyesNow on SI Contributor

These two teams are very close, and I think Ohio State will be able to generate explosive plays and move the ball on the Crimson Tide defense. 

However, I believe the most critical factor in this game is how the Ohio State secondary matches against the Alabama pass game. Based on the tape, I have to give the edge in that matchup to the Crimson Tide - the Buckeyes have shown they can be vulnerable on the back end, and the depth, multiplicity, and design from Alabama could prove to be the difference in the game.

Final Score Prediction: Alabama 35, Ohio State 24

Eddie Marotta, BuckeyesNow on SI Contributor

This is going to be a fun one. Ohio State showed in the Sugar Bowl that they belong in the College Football Playoff, shutting down all of the criticism from the crowd that believed they shouldn’t be eligible with only six games under their belts. Alabama’s consistency is incredible, and it should be noted that Nick Saban has only won one national championship via an undefeated season.

Ohio State’s defense was largely impressive against Clemson, but I think the story is completely flipped in this game. Clemson’s strength was at quarterback and running back, and with consistent pressure from OSU’s front seven, they were able to nullify most of the big plays that have plagued them throughout the season. But, they didn’t have to face a receiver like DeVonta Smith in the secondary. They haven’t been tested by a guy that can take a slant or a bubble 70 yards for a touchdown, and can make plays down the field. I think this game comes down to Smith’s matchup with Shaun Wade, and I’m not at all confident in Wade’s ability to nullify the Heisman Trophy winner. 

OSU may be able to slow down Najee Harris in the run game and put up points with their offense in a groove, but in the crucial portion of the game, in the championship moments, Alabama has an x-factor to directly attack the Buckeyes’ weakness. Nobody has been able to guard this guy all season, and I don’t think OSU will be able to take him away down the stretch of this game. Ohio State keeps it close and puts up one hell of a fight, but Alabama closes this game out late.

Final Score Prediction: Alabama 41, Ohio State 38

John Garcia, Sports Illustrated Director of Football Recruiting and College Football Analyst

With an abundance of time and an uneven sample size, it’s easy to dig too much into the national title game. My gut says two things can be true and make it a classic finish to an unforgettable season: Ohio State’s ceiling versus the possibility of Alabama’s.

Justin Fields and the Buckeyes had everything, and I mean everything, roll the right way against Clemson including the biggest non-COVID scare the team has dealt with to this point (Fields’ ribs). Can that effort be duplicated or even threatened? 

On that same thought process, has Alabama had that game where everything comes together against a marquee opponent? To me those translate to a small, if existing, gap between the talent on each roster in what should be a relatively high scoring affair. ‘Bama is just too balanced and has been all year long.

Final Score Prediction:  Alabama 37, Ohio State 28

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