No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 5 Ohio State
The surprise of the College Football Playoff was Alabama at No. 4, while Ohio State received the No. 5 spot. Despite not winning the SEC Championship Game, or even making it to Atlanta, GA, Nick Saban’s team made it.
However, in this scenario, it’s No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 5 Ohio State. None of Sunday’s controversy matters. Who wins?
This matchup would be a slow-paced, ground-and-pound contest. Both schools’ defenses and running games are strong, with JK Dobbins for the Buckeyes and a multi-headed attack from the Crimson Tide. Quarterbacks Jalen Hurts and JT Barrett have their limitations, too, which further evens these teams.
It’s difficult to erase the last picture of Alabama that everyone saw, losing to Auburn in the Iron Bowl. This was the worst the 2016 National Champions looked in a few years, even beyond the loss to Clemson in the 2017 National Championship Game. That’s while Ohio State was seen on Saturday, looked great on defense and delivered a dynamic rushing attack.
Did we see enough from Alabama in the 2017 season? Probably not. Their schedule wasn’t difficult, along with losing the toughest game, by far, on its schedule.
With Ohio State, we also saw Iowa destroy them in the middle of the season. It’s hard to look past that. Coupled with JT Barrett’s knee problems that didn’t seem to be an issue on Saturday, but something that can flare up.
Look for the Crimson Tide to win this playoff matchup. It will be a close matchup, but a healthier defense and the success at not turning the ball over goes in their favor. That leads to a matchup against Clemson.