Which Matchups Will Determine the National Title?
The Alabama Crimson Tide will take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff national championship on Monday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. It is the most anticipated matchup of the season with both sides featuring some of the top talent in the nation. What are some of the most important matchups that will determine the outcome of the game?
DeVonta Smith vs. Shaun Wade - The Heisman Trophy winner, DeVonta Smith has been a plague on opposing defenses all year long to a tune of 105 receptions 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns. Ohio State AP All-American cornerback, Shaun Wade has already made it known that he wants to try his hand at covering Smith. Wade is considered one of the top cornerbacks in college football and briefly entertained the idea of opting out of this year entirely to focus on the 2021 NFL Draft, he has two interceptions this year with three pass breakups on the stat sheet. He largely has manned the slot for the Buckeyes this season, but Smith's gamebreaking ability may force Wade into shadowing him all over the field.
Patrick Surtain II vs. Chris Olave - Patrick Surtain is one of the top cornerbacks in the country and earned a bevy of awards for his performance this season, including SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Surtain was only targeted 43 times this season giving up a mere 18 receptions. He will be matched up in the national championship game with Buckeyes top target, Chris Olave. Olave missed the Big 10 Championship game due to COVID-19 protocols but in six contests this season he recorded 42 receptions for 660 yards and seven touchdowns. He's been most effective in his most recent two outings against Michigan State and Clemson totaling 16 receptions for 271 and three touchdowns. Whoever gets the better of this matchup could tip the scales in favor of their team.
Dylan Moses & Christian Harris vs. Justin Fields & Trey Sermon - The inside linebacking duo of Dylan Moses and Christian Harris will be primarily responsible for shutting the Buckeyes running game. Ohio State has been extremely proficient on the ground this year, averaging 272 yards on the ground per game this season. Trey Sermon, a transfer from Oklahoma, has emerged as a bell-cow running back for Ohio State as he has taken 60 carries for 524 yards and three touchdowns in the last two games. Justin Fields is an impeccable athlete capable of hurting the Tide on the ground and in the air, with his 1,906 yards passing and 316 yards rushing, both Moses and Harris will have to be in sync with one another to slow down this dangerous duo. Harris has racked up 73 tackles this season with 4.5 sacks and one interception, Moses has accumulated 70 tackles this season with one sack and one interception.
Whichever side can win these three important key matchups will put themselves in great position to win the 2021 CFP National Championship.
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