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Ohio State Buckeyes Face Toughest Task Yet Against Alabama

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields passes against Clemson during the second half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in New Orleans.
Butch Dill
/
Associated Press
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields passes against Clemson during the second half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in New Orleans.

Ten days after soundly defeating Clemson to earn a chance to play for another national title, the Ohio State Buckeyes confront their biggest on-field obstacle of the season in the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.

Alabama boasts one of the most prolific offenses in college football history. They’re led by Heisman Trophy winning wide receiver Devonta Smith, as well as running back Najee Harris and quarterback Mac Jones.

Ohio State are no slouches themselves. The Buckeyes are anchored by Big Ten Player of the Year quarterback Justin Fields, who had a career-best six touchdown passes in the Buckeyes’ 49-28 win over Clemson in the January 1 semifinal.

Monday’s game caps off a coronavirus-shortened season that saw the Buckeyes play just five regular season games. It was thought for weeks that Ohio State wouldn’t have a season at all, after the Big Ten’s athletic directors voted in August to postpone the season to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Athletic directors later reversed course and voted to have a season with strict coronavirus protocols in place. Ohio State ended up canceling one game because of positive coronavirus tests and having two others canceled by opposing teams, including what was supposed to be the regular season finale against Michigan.

The Buckeyes beat Northwestern for the Big Ten conference championship after athletic directors voted to remove the minimum number of games requiered to play for the conference title.

Despite their success this year, Ohio State enters the national title game as they did the semifinal against Clemson: an underdog.

COVID is expected to still be an issue in the national title game, as several media reports say the Buckeyes could be without several players following positive tests. Ohio State plans to say which players are available for the game just before kickoff.