Ohio State vs. Alabama: National Championship Game First Half Notebook

Here are my first half thoughts so far as the Buckeyes hope for a second half comeback against Alabama.
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Halftime Score: Alabama 35, Ohio State 17

DeVonta Smith is uncoverable. He has 12 catches for 215 yards in the first half. This notebook could start and end there, but here are a few other thoughts.

This Alabama offense reminds me of the Cuban coffee and loud sports cars that are so commonplace in Miami. They make your pulse race, they're loud and fast and elusive, and they'll make you squirm in your seat as a Buckeye fan! Mac Jones is extremely comfortable, Najee Harris

Losing Trey Sermon on the first play of the night is a huge blow for the Buckeyes. He went to the locker room to be evaluated for an apparent shoulder injury. Without Miyan Williams tonight, Master Teague may see a lot of touches if Sermon isn't able to return.

It was discouraging to see Alabama move down the field with relative ease to score on its opening drive. But a touchdown drive from the Buckeyes was a methodical, impressive response. Chris Olave and Jeremy Ruckert each caught big passes to keep the drive alive before Teague punched it in. That drive really felt like it needed to end in points for the Scarlet and Gray, and they made it happen.

Nobody has stopped DeVonta Smith all year and I'm not sure anyone really can bottle up his elusiveness. But I'm concerned early in the game at how much he seems to be running literally all over the field. The Buckeyes have to figure out how to contain him better.

With the Crimson Tide leading 14-7 and the Buckeyes having just punted, senior linebacker Baron Browning made it monster play that immediately paid dividends for the Buckeyes. His strip sack of Mac Jones and recovery gave the Buckeyes the first takeaway of the night. Two plays later, Master Teague ran it in and tied things up. Talk about a swing in momentum!

Even though Ohio State gave up points on each of the first two drives of the game, I liked that it took Alabama 23 plays to score on those two drives. They avoided the big play early - that has to remain the case because the Tide offense looks unstoppable right now.

Alabama hasn't made many mistakes, but the Buckeyes have made them pay for them. After one-time Ohio State commit-turned-Alabama safety Jordan Battle was ejected for targeting in the middle of the second quarter, Ohio State added a field goal to cut into the Crimson Tide lead.

DeVonta Smith won the Heisman trophy for a reason. The 44-yard pass to him up the right sideline was a perfect example. Mac Jones took the snap and just launched a rainbow down the sideline and trusted Smith to catch up to it. The defense had no chance to stop it.

The Buckeyes had to punt late in the second quarter because of an apparent blown call. Alabama appeared to have 12 men on the field, but they referees picked up the flag on the third down play. Bama immediately jumped on the Buckeyes with another big TD pass over the middle.

It's been a fairly frustrating night for Justin Fields so far. Fields is just 6-for-15 for 90 yards in the first half, and he may have lost his best lineman when Wyatt Davis went out with an injury late in the second quarter.


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