College Football National Championship Picks: Alabama vs. Ohio State

Brett Ciancia gives us his picks for the CFP National Championship
Brett Ciancia
Sun, January 10, 4:47 AM EST

Alabama vs. Ohio State Predictions

Despite the uncertainties and doubts all summer, the college football season made it through to January – we crowned all ten conference champions, crowned a Heisman Trophy winner, and Monday night we will crown a true national champion.  This is a testament to the thousands of student-athletes that sacrificed so much to play this great American game.

And in a crazy year, this title game is actually a throwback to the old days, as the only two undefeated teams face off for the national championship.

Alabama is a proven commodity.  We’ve seen this offense all season put up insane stats and scores.  They even landed three offensive players into the Heisman Top 5 – a feat so rare, it took wartime-dynasty Army to pull it off in the 1940s.

But here’s the big question… can they slow other elite offenses down?  The only two teams to get within 17 points of them all season were Ole Miss (15 point-margin) and Florida (6 point-margin).  Both Ole Miss and Florida are in the Top 15 of scoring offense and total offense, and these elite offenses laid the blueprint for challenging Alabama: get them into a scoring track meet.  Ohio State is not only Top 15 in those metrics – but Top 5.

Justin Fields gutted out a heroic performance, battling injury and still throwing for as many touchdowns (6) as incompletions (6).  Despite the virus/roster concerns, Ohio State dealt Clemson its worst loss since 2012.  Trey Sermon rushed for 524 yards over two games against Top 5 rushing defenses Northwestern & Clemson.

This game is more of a toss-up than the 9-point spread suggests. 

Plus, one closing note: Nick Saban has coached in 8 national titles.  With a full month to prepare (BCS era) he is 4-0 ATS.  But in the Playoff era with just a week of prep, he is 0-4 ATS.

PREDICTION:  OHIO STATE 45,  ALABAMA 41

PICK: OHIO STATE +9  @  -110

Alabama’s offense has gotten a ton of attention this year, and rightfully so.  The Heisman trio is paired with two All-American’s up front – the Outland winner AND the Rimington winner.

However, compared to the strengths of the defenses they faced, it is actually Ohio State that has performed better.  Looking at my opponent-adjusted metrics, Ohio State averages 2.3 yards per play OVER their opponents’ defense averages.  Alabama is at +2.1.

Over the past 10 seasons (650 Power 5 offenses), only 9 offenses have averaged 2+ over their opponent averages.  So both units are in historic territory.  Further, when such teams play each other, they have averaged 86 combined points/game:

91 total points LSU/OU (2019)

87 total points Alabama/LSU (2019)

79 total points Alabama/OU (2018)

I am 8-3 (73%) ATS in my “Over Total Points” bets here on OddsChecker this season.  The 75 total line looks too low here.

PICK:  OVER 75 TOTAL POINTS  @  -110

CFP National Title Game Props

Will both teams score 30+ points – Yes (-160)  or  No (+120)

PICK: YES  @  -160

Longest Touchdown of the Game – Over/Under 54.5 yards

PICK: OVER 54.5 yards

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