No. 1 Alabama in search of sixth title underneath Saban vs. Ohio St


MIAMI (AP) — Attempting to determine which of Nick Saban’s Alabama groups is greatest is akin to selecting Michelangelo’s biggest murals or Ernest Hemingway’s greatest novel.

They’re all wonderful in their very own manner.

The primary to win a nationwide championship got here in 2009 and remains to be the one Alabama workforce to complete unbeaten underneath Saban in 14 seasons of unprecedented dominance.

The 2011 nationwide champions had possibly the best protection of faculty soccer’s trendy period of high-powered offenses. The present Crimson Tide workforce has some of the prolific and proficient offenses within the historical past of the game.

”Each workforce is completely different. Each workforce has its personal character,” Saban mentioned Sunday. ”However it’s arduous to match groups.”

The highest-ranked Tide (12-0) are set to face No. 3 Ohio State (7-0) on Monday for the Faculty Soccer Playoff championship in the hunt for their sixth nationwide title with Saban as coach.

The ultimate recreation of this taxing and unusual season performed by means of the coronavirus pandemic is on schedule to happen at Onerous Rock Stadium, dwelling of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, as deliberate. Due to COVID-19, which prompted the postponement or cancelation of almost 130 video games, nothing has been assured this season. However Alabama arrived in South Florida on Friday and Ohio State obtained to city Saturday.

The standard day-before-the-championship-game information convention with the coaches was held Sunday morning through Zoom. No sharing of a stage, posing with the trophy and staged handshakes this yr.

”It actually has been an odd street to get right here,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day mentioned.

The Buckeyes confronted the prospect of no fall soccer in any respect when the Huge Ten postponed in August, after which they managed to get in solely six video games earlier than making the playoff. Day acknowledged earlier this week that Ohio State was coping with some new COVID-19 instances.

There was even some concern early within the week that the sport might need to be pushed again.

If the Buckeyes do upset Alabama to win their first nationwide title since 2014, they may have performed the fewest video games of any nationwide champion since Minnesota completed 8-0 in 1941.

Alabama had just one recreation postponed this season, although it was due to COVID-19 points with LSU. Saban examined optimistic for the virus – twice. The primary time it was deemed a false optimistic after additional testing and he was in a position to coach in opposition to Georgia. The second time he needed to miss the Iron Bowl in opposition to Auburn.

In any other case the Tide dynasty has rolled alongside as near enterprise as ordinary as potential contemplating the circumstances.

”Our workforce has proven a number of maturity and perseverance all through the season,” Saban mentioned. ”We instructed our gamers mainly the workforce that exhibits the maturity to have the ability to deal with disruptions goes to have the very best likelihood to achieve success in the long run, and consistency in efficiency is all the time a key to success, and that perseverance has proven up in the best way we have been in a position to play with consistency.”

And constantly nice in opposition to an unusually troublesome schedule.

Due to the pandemic, the Southeastern Convention determined to play solely league video games this season. Dealing with 11 SEC video games and Notre Dame within the playoff, the Crimson Tide have had a median margin of victory of 29 factors. Solely one in every of their video games was determined by fewer than 15.

Alabama’s offense options 5 All-Individuals, together with Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith and two extra gamers (quarterback Mac Jones and operating again Najee Harris) who completed within the high 5 in Heisman voting.

”This can be a nice offense. It’s a full offense,” Ohio State defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs mentioned. ”They’ve nice gamers, however in addition they have an excellent scheme and so they perceive the best way to assault defenses. Folks have tried quite a few various things in opposition to them, and so they all the time have a solution.”

One other championship would give Saban seven total, together with a BCS title at LSU in 2003, breaking a tie for probably the most all time with Alabama’s different teaching nice, Paul Bryant. The Bear received six championships in 25 years main the Tide from 1958-82.

The 69-year-old Saban is 169-23 at Alabama, with no indicators of slowing down.

”Top-of-the-line soccer coaches within the historical past of faculty soccer,” Day mentioned.

HOW IS FIELDS FEELING?

The storyline of the week for Ohio State is how quarterback Justin Fields was doing after taking a brutal shot to the facet within the second quarter of the Buckeyes’ semifinal victory over Clemson. Fields missed just one play in opposition to the Tigers and ended up throwing six landing passes.

However it’s a narrative with few particulars. Fields has mentioned he was feeling higher than anticipated the day after the sport and he will probably be good to go Monday evening.

Day offers no harm updates for his gamers, so it’s nonetheless unclear precisely what the harm was to Fields.

”Justin has had an excellent week of observe,” Day mentioned. ”He is executed a very good job getting ready, and I believe that is the factor that he felt like he did an excellent job going into final recreation, was simply getting ready at a excessive stage, and he is continued to try this this week.”

It will possible be Fields’ final recreation, because the junior is predicted to be one of many first gamers chosen within the NFL draft in April.

Comply with Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and pay attention at https://westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/

Extra AP school soccer: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25





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