College Football Monday: National Title Edition
Ohio State @ Alabama -9 O/U 75
Ohio State (33 Implied Team Total)
Justin Fields eviscerated Clemson for 385 passing yards, 6 TDs, and INT while also tallying 42 rushing yards on 8 carries in the CFB Semi-Final. He encounters an Alabama defense that is allowing 242.9 passing yards per game including 6.7 yards per pass attempt. They yielded 14 TD passes in 12 games. The Alabama defense has two of the best perimeter corners in the CFB. I’m assuming Fields will have to work over the middle of the field in order to have success tonight. The Ohio State offense favors the run (62.2/37.8 run-pass split) and averages 72.6 plays per game.
Trey Sermon should be in line for another monster workload. He’s run for 112+ rushing yards in 3 straight games. Over the last 2 games (B1G Ten title game/semi-final game), he’s carried the ball an eye-popping 60 times for 524 yards and 3 TDs while also catching 7 balls for 65 yards. ND’s Kyren Williams led all ND pass catchers with 8 receptions in Alabama’s semi-final win. I do believe that Sermon will be targeted pretty heavily as Alabama has pretty shut down the perimeter passing game of their opponents this season. The Crimson Tide allowed 110.2 rushing yards per game including 3.21 yards per carry. They were beaten for 13 rushing TDs in 12 games. Alabama allowed 2 individual ball carriers to top 100 rushing yards this season (MISS Ealy and MISS Conner). Behind Sermon, it’s a bit of a mystery. Master Teague was unable to suit in the semi-final and his status for tonight’s game is unknown. If he’s available, he’d be the logical backup to Sermon. Miyan Williams has been working as Sermon’s backup but he didn’t make the trip for tonight’s game. Reportedly, if Teague is out, Steele Chambers is the likely backup (9/86/0 this season rushing). I will note that OSU is stealing dealing with COVID, so it’ll be vital to monitor their availability list prior to lock.
Target counts this season: Garrett Wilson (52), Chris Olave (50 – 6 games), Trey Sermon (15), Jeremy Ruckert (14), Julian Fleming (12 – 6 games), Jameson Williams (11), Jaxon Smith-Njigba (9 – 6 games), Luke Farrell (8), Master Teague (4 – 6 games), Demario McCall (2 – 3 games), Jake Hausmann (1 – 5 games), and Wyatt Davis (1).
Olave returned for the semi-final after missing the B1G Ten title game with COVID. He promptly eviscerated Clemson for 6/132/2. The junior cleared 100 receiving yards in 5 out of 6 games. He posted 5/62/2 in the only game that he didn’t clear the century mark. He also caught 5+ balls in all 6 games. I believe Patrick Surtain II will be tasked with guarding Olave. Surtain II is arguably the best CB in all of college football. Meanwhile, Wilson starts in the slot. The sophomore has been held under 60 receiving yards in 3 straight games after topping 100 receiving yards in each of the 1st 4 games. I do believe he’ll need a monster game if OSU has any hopes of winning tonight. As mentioned above, he could be busy as Alabama will allow plays over the middle of the field. QB Fields posted a 134.3 passer rating when targeting Wilson and a 141.7 passer rating when targeting Olave. There is where things get dicey as OSU has received so much production from their top 2 WRs. Jeremy Ruckert went off for 3/55/2 on 4 targets against Clemson in the semi-final. He has 5 TDs receptions this season. I do think he’ll be pretty popular which slightly dampens his appeal (he’s still a solid play). Williams is perhaps the Buckeyes fastest WR and he starts on the perimeter opposite of Olave. Williams doesn’t receive many targets but he’s capable of making big plays. The sophomore has 2 TD receptions of 38+ yards this season (8/140/2 in 7 games this season). Luke Farrell posted 5/37/1 from the TE spot this season. He’ll go virtually un-owned tonight. If OSU goes with a lot of 2 TE spots, he’d be in line for a decent amount of snaps. As noted couple of times already, I think OSU will have to move the ball over the middle of the field. Fleming and Smith-Njigba are the 2 WRs that’ll be on the field from time-to-time. Fleming (7/74/0 this season though 4 of those receptions came when he started for Olave when Olave was sidelined) did not receive a single target against Clemson while JSN caught both of his targets for 12 yards (8/29/1 this season). Both WRs were highly regarded prospects.
Jake Seibert will reportedly handle the kicking duties with Blake Haubeil and Dominic DiMaccio out due to COVID. Seibert has made all 13 of his extra point attempts while he missed his lone field goal attempt. It’ll be interesting to see if OSU rolls the dice on 4th down if they’re in FG range more often with Haubeil out. Seibert did record 6 and 7 points in the two games that he kicked in this season.
Alabama (42 Implied Team Total)
Mac Jones and the Alabama passing game figure to carry most of the ownership on this slate. When OSU has been beaten, it’s been through the passing game. Jones dusted ND for 297 passing yards and 4 TDs in the Crimson Tide’s semi-final win. The junior QB threw for 4,036 passing yards, 36 TDs, and 4 INT in 12 games this season. The Ohio State defense allowed 281.1 passing yards per game including 7.26 yards per pass attempt. They were beaten for 11 TD passes in 7 games. QBs on top 25 teams against OSU: PSU’s Clifford 281 passing yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT, IU’s Penix Jr. 491 passing yards, 5 TDs, and 1 INT, NW’s Ramsey 224 passing yards, 44 rushing yards, and 2 INT, and CLEM’s Lawrence 400 passing yards, 2 TD, and 1 INT. I will note that most of the QBs racked up passing yards once their respective teams fell significantly behind. OSU will be down two defensive linemen reportedly (All Big 10 honorable mention Tyreke Smith and Tommy Tiogiu). Haskell Garrett (another starting DL) is also listed as questionable. This is obviously bad news for OSU’s defense. Anyway, Alabama favored the run (53.1/46.9 run-pass split) and averaged 68.3 plays per game.
Najee Harris was arguably the nation’s top RB this season. The senior has 1,387 rushing yards and 24 rushing TDs through 12 games. He’s also a very effective player in the passing game as he hauled in 36 balls for 346 yards and 3 TDs this season. He’ll be very popular but for good reason. Harris will encounter a great OSU run defense that will be reportedly handicapped as they are likely out at least 2 starters (and possibly three if Garrett can’t go). Ohio State limited opposing ball carriers to 89.1 rushing yards including 3.2 yards per carry. They allowed 8 rushing TDs in 7 games. Brian Robinson Jr. will work behind Harris in the backfield. He received 3 carries in the semi-final game.
Target counts this season: DeVonta Smith (130), John Metchie III (65), Najee Harris (46), Jaylen Waddle (29 – 4 games), Miller Forristall (27 – 11 games), Slade Bolden (26 – 11 games), Jahleel Billingsley (17 – 11 games), Brian Robinson Jr. (10), Xavier Williams (3), Thaiu Jones-Bell (2 – 2 games), Javon Baker (2 – 5 games), Carl Tucker (1 – 7 games), Major Tennison (1 – 4 games), and Jase McClellan (1 – 3 games).
The major question is, will superstar WR Jaylen Waddle make his return to the field tonight? The slot man is questionable after missing the last 8 games due to injury. If he returns, I’d guess that he’d somewhat limited (like 50% of the snaps). Waddle had 120+ receiving yards in all 4 games that he played in this season. He posted an eye popping 25/557/4 in 4 games this season. He caught 5+ balls in all 4 games. Clearly, he’s a viable MVP/Capt. play if he’s able to go tonight. Smith figures to draw Shaun Wade, who’s struggled to say the least this season. OSU has been crushed by perimeter WRs with speed this season: IU’s Fryfogle for 7/218/3 earlier this season and allowed 8/139/2 to Cornell Powell in the semi-final. I think Waddle’s presence can only help Smith. Metchie III is the other starting perimeter WR. The sophomore cleared 50 receiving yards in 9 out of 12 games this season. He’s averaging 4 receptions per game over the last 4 games (47/835/6). He makes for an interesting leverage play off Smith. Bolden and Billingsley have manned the slot with Waddle sidelined. Billingsley has the higher upside amongst the two. Bolden posted 21/248/0 over the last 8 games sans Waddle and Billingsley recorded 16/260/3 in that same time frame. As noted above, I think Waddle will be a part-time player if he does play so both Bolden and Billingsley are in play regardless (I favor Billingsley fwiw). Forristall, the TE, enters the National Title game with 3+ receptions in each of the last 3 games. He posted 23/253/1 this season.
Will Reichert is the Crimson Tide’s kicker. He made all 77 of his extra point attempts while also nailing all 13 of his FG attempts this season. The sophomore recorded at least 7 points in all 12 games this season (averaged 9.67 points per game this season). He’s in play on DK.
And with that, College Football is a wrap. Thanks for a fun season everyone and good luck tonight!