How to watch: Alabama vs. Ohio State
For the third straight year, there will an undefeated national champion of college football as Alabama (12-0) and Ohio State (7-0) will face off in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game tonight at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Garden, Fla.
Here's all the information you need to know for tonight's game.
How to watch:
What: College Football Playoff National Championship
Who: Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0)
When: Monday, Jan 11
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
Time: 7:00 p.m. CT
TV: ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN U, ESPNews, ESPN Deportes, ESPN 4K
Line: -7 Alabama
Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Ohio State head coach Ryan Day spoke to the media Sunday for the final time before Monday night's national championship game. Both coaches provided updates on injured players heading into the matchup.
Saban called Malachi Moore "very questionable" for the game as the freshman defensive back is still dealing with an undisclosed injury that caused him to sit out the Rose Bowl earlier this month. The head coach said LaBryan Ray is "a little bit more probable," stating the redshirt junior has practiced this week. Ray has missed five games this season due to an elbow injury.
In addition, Saban provided an update on injured receiver Jaylen Waddle, who remains a game-time decision. Waddle fractured his ankle during the opening kickoff against Tennessee on Oct. 24 but returned to practice last week.
“He has been able to practice to some degree,” Saban said. “I think the biggest challenge is can he sustain in the game, and it’ll be a game-time decision as to whether he thinks he can play and go out there and do his job well enough to contribute to the team, and we won’t know that until we get out there after pregame warmup.”
Day has been more guarded in divulging injury news leading up to the game but did provide an update on Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who took a big hit during the Buckeye's Sugar Bowl win over Clemson earlier this month.
“Justin has had a good week of practice,” Day said. “He’s done a really good job preparing, and I think that’s the thing that he felt like he did a good job going into last game, was just preparing at a high level, and he’s continued to do that this week.”
Three key matchups
Ohio State's run defense vs. Alabama's OL: Ohio State ranks No. 2 in the nation, holding opponents to 89.14 yards per game on the ground. However, shutting down Alabama's running game won't be easy. The Crimson Tide boasts a Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line and the Doak Walker Award winner in Najee Harris. Earlier this season, Alabama ran for 147 yards on Georgia, which leads the nation in run defense, allowing just 72.3 yards per game on the ground.
DeVonta Smith vs. Shaun Wade: During its Sugar Bowl win over Clemson, Ohio State utilized defensive back Shaun Wade on one-on-one matchups to provide extra help elsewhere on the defense. Wade, who is projected as a first-round pick in this year's NFL draft will face his toughest test to date as he takes on Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith. The Alabama receiver affectionately called the "Slim Reaper" by Tide fans, leads the nation in receptions (105), receiving yards (1,641) and receiving touchdowns (20) and will likely also be a first-round pick in this year's draft.
Justin Fields vs. Alabama's linebackers: Will Justin Fields be at full speed against Alabama? If so, the Crimson Tide will need a big day from its inside linebackers as it looks to contain the dual-threat quarterback. Fields threw for 385 yards and six touchdowns with an interception against Clemson but also recorded 42 yards on eight carries. Through seven games, the 6-foot-3, 228-pounder has recorded 316 yards and five touchdowns with his feet. Alabama has struggled with elite dual-threat passers in the past. Dylan Moses and Christian Harris will need to contain Fields to make sure that doesn't happen again Monday night.
Key factors for Alabama
Alabama is set to conclude one of its most memorable seasons Monday as it takes on Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Will the Crimson Tide be celebrating its sixth title under Nick Saban or will it be staring down its second championship-game defeat in three years? That answer likely hinges on a few key factors.
BamaInsider breaks down what Alabama must do Monday night if it wants to lock up its first undefeated season since 2009.