Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:30 AM EST.
Ohio State +9 over Alabama
Monday, January 11th, 2021 – Hard Rock Stadium – Miami Gardens, FL
College Football Playoff National Championship Game
8:00 PM EST. There has been no coach in the modern poll era (BCS/College Football Playoff) that has attained Nick Saban’s accolades, and no team has been a regular in the championship conversation more than the Alabama Crimson Tide. Nick Saban and the Tide are the face of College Football and therefore, one will automatically pay an inflated price to get behind them. Once again, we also must state that it is essential to pick and choose when to fade Alabama, as it is never prudent to do so blindly. However, when we consider the value that lies with the underdog in this contest, win or lose, it’s a must play.
Before we even break down the threat that Ohio State poses, we have to lead with the fact that the high Over/Under (75) in this game is not conducive to be laying more than a converted touchdown. This game is an anticipated shootout and in such situations, the academic move is to almost always grab the points but it goes beyond that. While many herald in the three-headed, multiple-award receiving monster of the Alabama Crimson Tide consisting of quarterback Mac Jones, wide receiver Devonta Smith, and running-back Najee Haris, Ohio State has an offensive unit that could very easily go tit-for-tat with the Crimson Tide. As many punches as Alabama can throw, Ohio State can have a counterpunch waiting to fire back.
Ohio State QB Justin Fields was a Heisman finalist in 2019, and could have very easily hoisted the hardware had he not been in the same Heisman class with former LSU QB Joe Burrow, who could have had the greatest statistical season any offensive player has had in college football history. Fields finished 2019 with over 3,700 total yards of offense (passing and rushing), was responsible for 51 touchdowns, and threw just three interceptions. Dude was a real-life video game but just so happened to be up against another guy who took that same concept to an unprecedented level. Under any other circumstance, Fields would have won the Heisman and perhaps the conversation coming into 2020 would be as to whether he can replicate his success. However, thanks to Joe Burrow and LSU in 2019, along with the chaos that the coronavirus pandemic caused upon the B1G in 2020, Fields and Ohio State had a relatively smaller sample size to make their case, and up until their thrashing of Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, their opportunities to prove themselves were obtained against five bottom-feeders in the B1G and against Northwestern, who they snuck by to get to the College Football Playoff.
On the flipside, Alabama has a Heisman winner in Devonta Smith (who also won the Maxwell and Biletnikoff trophies as well) along with another Heisman finalist in Mac Jones (who won the Davey O’Brien trophy), and yet another Heisman candidate in Walker-award winner Najee Harris. All three have been the talk of the town for most of the 2020 season, each front-runners at one point throughout the campaign. Moreover, the Tide have more or less pummelled everything they have come across. Expanding further, Alabama has never left the top two in rankings all season long, and they have been the unanimous number one team in America for seven weeks and counting. The media is salivating all over themselves once again, much like they all were regarding the Steelers chances to beat the Brownies. For two months, all we have heard about is Alabama while Ohio State, at one point this season, was unsure if it would even play football, and when it did, it was thought by many to be undeserving of any kind of postseason bid.
When the two characteristics of both sides are tossed into the broth, the personnel considerations of both parties “on-paper” are made, thus, there is little doubt that Alabama’s unrivaled pedigree is influencing the price. That also allows us to step in on a live underdog taking back a huge tag that has the capability of winning outright.
Make no mistake that this is no mismatch. Mac Jones is not miles better than Justin Fields, there are no disparities between the two teams’ defensive units, and while the Buckeyes do not have a Devonta Smith or perhaps even a Najee Harris, they do have a few guys named Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Jeremy Ruckert, and Trey Sermon. All four are exceptionally talented, all four have been instrumental playmakers for the Buckeyes this season, all four have stepped up in Ohio State’s run to the national championship, and all four would have attracted a lot more attention if they did not have such a limited window to prove their viability.
We’re willing to bet that the Buckeyes are loving all the hype that surrounds Alabama and those telling them that they do not belong in the conversation. We are only two weeks removed from the same chit-chat that fuelled Ohio State to lay waste to Clemson on New Year’s Day. The Buckeyes may not win and they may not cover but that’s out of our hands. What is in our hands is the power to choose where the value lies and from our vantage points, there isn’t any question about that. The Buckeyes belong and that leaves us taking back an absurd amount of points.
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Ohio State +9 -106 (Risking 2.12 units - To Win: 2.00)