2021 college football playoff provides more interesting storylines than football games

Jackson Buss

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Photo courtesy of Ted Eytan

The famed Rose Bowl Stadium where No.1 Alabama defeated No. 4 Notre Dame 31-14 in the first 2021 playoff semi-final. The historical Rose Bowl stadium is nearly 100 years old and has been host to many legendary games and players.

After a year of postponements, cancellations and ambiguity, the 2020-21 college football season is now over, and for the sixth time in 11 years the Alabama Crimson Tide have won it all.

The playoff began with No. 1 Alabama taking on No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 2 Clemson was faced up against No. 3 Ohio State.

The Crimson Tide have held the top ranking all season and Notre Dame is notorious for terrible postseason performance so the former result was expected. The latter however, was a surprise to many people as most experts picked Clemson to win the game and many questioned whether the Buckeyes even deserved to be in the game. The legitimacy of their selection was also questioned and it was suggested that the committee just wanted a Big 10 team in the playoff. No one would have expected that at the beginning of the season as many people saw them as having the best roster in all of college football and were many peoples title picks and at face value their 6-0 record and Big Ten Championship all seems to follow that. However, they did not cruise to that 6-0 record and have had some close calls throughout the season and did not look good winning some games. However, they surprised everyone by blowing out Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers who had been to back-to-back title games up until this year.

Ohio State put up an outstanding 49 points as their offense was on fire. Quarterback Justin Fields seemed extra motivated this game. The Buckeyes season had ended at the hands of the Tigers last season, and everyone has been talking about Lawrence for the No. 1 pick in the draft this year with Fields as an afterthought. Fields found his favorite receiver all season, Chris Olave, six times, for 132 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Ohio State was also able to win this game by dominating the running game on both sides. Trey Sermon ran for nearly 200 yards averaging almost six and a half yards per carry, and Fields ran for 42 more on top of that. On the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes defense limited arguably the best running back in the nation, Travis Etienne, to only 32 yards and Trevor Lawrence ran for negative yardage.

Although Fields and the Buckeyes offense put up 49 points, this game was won by the defense as they made key stops that set up the offense in scoring positions. They also forced turnovers as Lawrenced coughed up the ball three times although the Buckeyes recovered it once, and also forced a pick. This was the first time the Tigers had scored less than 34 points all season, and this Ohio State defense played their offense harder than anyone else had all season. It was a slow start, but this Ohio State team really seems to be taking shape. This game against Clemson was a revenge game for the Buckeyes. Fields was extra motivated to beat out Lawrence to prove something, and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney ranked Ohio State a disrespectful No. 11 and publicly said they didn’t deserve to get into the playoff, this was also the team that ended the Buckeyes season last year. This victory must have been especially sweet for the Buckeyes.

In the other semi-final game the Alabama Crimson Tide won comfortably against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Once again Notre Dame lost badly in a postseason game. The Crimson Tide were led by a fantastic defense that limited the Fighting Irish to 14 points.

Heisman finalists and starting quarterback Mac Jones was great going 25/30 for 300 yards and four touchdowns. 130 of those yards and three of those touchdowns went to Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith who is looking like the next great Alabama wide receiver.

In the early minutes of the National Championship game it looked like it was going to be a great game. Both teams traded touchdowns to start the game and Alabama retook the lead and made it 21-14 with a Mac Jones touchdown pass to running back Naji Harris. Ohio State responded with a field goal, and Alabama had the ball with the lead for the first time and they took advantage of it. With three minutes left in the half Mac Jones found Devonta Smith for Smith’s second touchdown of the game, then the Crimson Tide defense forced a three and out and Jones found Smith once again to give the Crimson Tide a 35-17 lead at the half. In the second-half the Crimson Tide continued to pull away and won comfortably 52-24. This win brough Nick Saban’s CFB Championships to a total of seven, giving him more than any other coach. This years playoff was once again a lot like the others, not a lot of close games, and the same teams as the years before. Hopefully next year we’ll see something different.

The famed Rose Bowl Stadium where No.1 Alabama defeated No. 4 Notre Dame 31-14 in the first 2021 playoff semi-final. The historical Rose Bowl stadium is nearly 100 years old and has been host to many legendary games and players.