When: Monday, 8:15 p.m.
Where: Hard Rock Stadium
Line: Alabama by 8
TV: ESPN; Radio: ESPN Radio
Weather: 71 degrees, 4 percent chance of rain
Follow online: SunSentinel.com/sports; On Twitter @DavidFurones_
Stadium safety protocols: Hard Rock Stadium is allowing 13,000 fans due to the COVID-19 pademic. There will be socially distanced seating clusters, mobile touchless entry into the stadium with staggered gate entry times listed on tickets and required mask-wearing for stadium employees and fans while not actively eating or drinking. Additional Hard Rock Stadium COVID-19 information is available at https://hardrockstadium.com/covid/
Quick slant: The Alabama Crimson Tide seek their sixth national championship in 12 years and 16th overall. The Ohio State Buckeyes are going for their ninth all-time. The last time Ohio State won it all, in the first College Football Playoff in the 2014 postseason, the Buckeyes went through Alabama in the semifinal. The two storied programs have only met four times with the Crimson Tide winning the three previous meetings that preceded that 2014 CFP semifinal.
About No. 1 Alabama (12-0, 11-0 SEC): The Crimson Tide’s high-powered offense this season had three players finish in the top five of Heisman voting — WR DeVonta Smith (first), QB Mac Jones (third) and RB Najee Harris (fifth). Alabama ranked second in scoring offense (49.8 points per game) and sixth in total offense (535 yards per game). The Tide defeated No. 4 Notre Dame, 31-14, in the semifinal.
About No. 3 Ohio State (7-0, 6-0 Big Ten): The five-game regular-season schedule the Buckeyes had this season due to a delayed start to the Big Ten’s season and other cancellations due to COVID proved to be no problem, first, in the conference championship against Northwestern and, then, in a 49-28 semifinal victory over No. 2 Clemson. QB Justin Fields was on fire, going 22 of 28 for 385 yards and six touchdowns. RB Trey Sermon followed up his 331-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Big Ten Championship with 193 rushing yards and another score against Clemson.
Three things to watch
1. How does Fields look for OSU after battling through an apparent rib injury from a hard hit courtesy of Clemson’s James Skalski in the semifinal win? Fields insisted he’ll “be good” for Monday night this past week. Alabama could get a boost in WR Jaylen Waddle, who has been out since Oct. 24, after participating in practices this past week.
2. Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who has been hired as Texas’ head coach, said title-game prep has been his priority, but he has also begun to shape his coaching staff with the Longhorns. Will the transition affect his or his offense’s preparation or will it be seamless for the Crimson Tide?
3. From a local perspective, keep an eye on the all-South Florida secondary of Alabama with cornerbacks Patrick Surtain II (American Heritage High) and Josh Jobe (Miami Columbus High) and safeties Jordan Battle (St. Thomas Aquinas High) and Daniel Wright (Boyd Anderson High).