Ohio State Buckeyes: 5 things to know about the national championship loss to Alabama

Alabama proved worthy of its No. 1 ranking with a 52-24 win over Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Monday night.

The Crimson Tide never trailed en route to their second national championship in three years and third in five.

“Tough night,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “Tough night. I’m proud of our team, proud of the seniors, proud of the year that we’ve had, but it was a tough night.”

Here are five things to know about the game:

1. Alabama was nearly flawless in the first half.

Mac Jones completed 25 of 30 passes for 342 yards and four touchdowns while Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith had 215 yards on 12 catches and scored three times in the first two quarters.

Smith came within 12 yards of Sammy Watkins’ single-game record for an OSU opponent, but he was not able to add to his total after suffering a hand injury early in the third quarter.

Jones finished with 36-for-45 passing for 464 yards to break Colt McCoy’s Ohio State bowl game opponent record of 414 set in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.

He also broke Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow’s championship game record for passing yards set last season for LSU against Clemson.

2. Ohio State lost a key player on the first play and another in the second quarter.

Trey Sermon, ran for 524 yards in the previous two games, was injured on a 2-yard carry to open the game. He left favoring his left side. After being examined at the game, he reportedly headed to a local hospital for further evaluation.

Late in the second quarter, the Buckeyes lost another key player as All-American right guard Wyatt Davis had to be helped off the field unable to put weight on his left leg.

Day said he had aggravated a knee injury and was in some pain after the game, but the coach did not have a more detailed update on a player who could be a high pick in the NFL Draft in April if he opts to leave school.

The Buckeyes entered short-handed on the defensive line with starters Tommy Togiai and Tyreke Smith among 13 players who were unavailable.

“We certainly missed Tommy Togiai in the game and a few others, but you’ve got to overcome it,” Day said. “Like I told the guys, nobody feels sorry for you, so you’ve just got to keep pushing forward. It’s kind of been the theme of the season.”

3. The Alabama offense broke multiple Ohio State opponent records.

The most points Ohio State had allowed in a bowl had been 42 by USC in the 1973 Rose Bowl.

Alabama finished with 621 total yards to break Clemson’s record of 526 in the 2014 Orange Bowl and 464 passing yards to surpass Texas’ 414 in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.

Jones tied Tajh Boyd’s record five touchdown passes set for Clemson in that same Orange Bowl.

Boyd’s top target in that game, Sammy Watkins, still holds the record for receiving yards in any game against Ohio State with 227.

The Tide’s total yards are the second-most by an Ohio State opponent in any game, trailing the 659 Illinois gained against the Buckeyes in 1980.

Asked about the defensive game plan, Day said they tried a few change-ups from their normal 4-3 look but execution was an issue at times.

“We wanted to make sure we didn’t change what we do, just fundamentally, but we also had to have some change-ups because if you just sit there, they’re going to pick you apart,” Day said. “But again, I think it goes back to it’s one thing to have some ideas, it’s another thing to execute them. We didn’t do that well enough. There was just obviously way too many big plays, and then on offense we couldn’t go score for score with them, and then the game gets out of hand.”

4. The offense could not keep up despite a gutsy performance by Justin Fields.

In what is expected to be his last game for the Buckeyes, the junior quarterback completed 17 of 33 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown.

Despite playing with a painful hip injury suffered in the CFP semifinal win over Clemson, he was also the team’s leading rusher with 67 yards on six carries.

“I could have been healthier, but I was healthy enough,” Fields said. “I was able to be out there.

“I felt pretty good coming into the game. We had a good game plan planned out, but they executed better than we did. Of course Bama is a great team, you have to give them their respect, and yeah, we’ve just got to be better.”

5. Ohio State was denied its ninth national championship.

The Buckeyes fell to 2-3 in official title games and 1-1 in CFP National Championship Games.

Alabama won its 18th national championship and won the CFP for the third time to go with three Bowl Championship Series titles.

Nick Saban, who also won a BCS championship at LSU, surpassed Bear Bryant for most national championships by a coach in the poll era with his seventh, and the Crimson Tide improved to 4-1 against Ohio State.

“Well, to me this team accomplished more almost than any team,” Saban said. “No disrespect to any other teams that we had or any championship teams. But this team won 11 SEC games. No other team has done that. They won the SEC, went undefeated in the SEC, then they beat two great teams in the playoffs with no break in between.

“This is our fifth game in a row, from LSU to Arkansas to Florida to Notre Dame to here. Played 13 games, went undefeated with all the disruption that we had in this season. I think there’s quite a bit to write about when it comes to the legacy of the team.”

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