As usual, all times eastern and all predictions wrong.
Monday, January 11
8:00: Alabama vs. Ohio State (CFP Championship Game @ Miami Gardens, FL; ESPN): There are no shortage of variables going into this game. Ohio State is very, very good, but they don’t have the body of work. I mean that in two ways, and I’m not necessarily docking them credit if they do win because they didn’t play enough games. I mean it purely from an analysis perspective. How do we weigh factors like them them running roughshod over Clemson but looking pedestrian against certain other Big Ten teams? What is the extent of Justin Fields’s injury? The latter could be key in the run game if Alabama doesn’t think he’s a credible run threat. That said, he also was presumably no longer a credible run threat in the Clemson game after taking the hit, but that didn’t seem to slow the Ohio State offense down, especially in the second half. But that said, I’m here to just pick winners and losers. I suspect many thing this will be a blowout in Bama’s favor, as though that feels inevitable. I don’t think so. I’m optimistic this will still be a close game that will definitely see the Buckeyes with a chance to win at the end. But… I will still go with the majority in that I don’t think they’ll quite get there. So perhaps if I were a betting guy, I’d go with Ohio State to cover but Bama to win.
SP+ line: Alabama by 4.3
Vegas line: Bama -8
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: Just four all time. The first was in 1978, a 35-6 Alabama win in the Sugar Bowl. The only regular season meeting was the Kick-Off Classic in the Meadowlands at the start of the 1986 season, and Bama won that one 16-10. For the 1994-95 season, they met in the Citrus Bowl, and Alabama won 24-17. And finally, their most recent meeting was the only Ohio State victory so far in the series, a 42-35 win in the 2014-15 Sugar Bowl that took the Buckeyes to the national title game in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
Last bowl game: Alabama defeated Notre Dame 31-14 in the “Rose” Bowl. Ohio State defeated Clemson 49-28 in the Sugar Bowl.
Announcers: Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor, Allison Williams