The Alabama Crimson Tide and Ohio State Buckeyes have a date in the College Football Playoff national championship game on Jan. 11. While many people expect the Crimson Tide to win, Ohio State proved that they can surprise some people in their win over the Clemson Tigers in the CFP semifinals. However, recent news from Bama about wide receiver Jaylen Waddle could ultimately spell doom for the Buckeyes.
Alabama and Ohio State will face off in the CFP championship game
Alabama has been absolutely dominant this season. They are scoring an incredible 48.2 points per game and holding their opponents to only 19 points per outing, which has helped them start the year 12-0.
Quarterback Mac Jones is having one of the greatest seasons for a QB in Alabama history, as he has thrown for 4,036 yards, 36 touchdowns, and only four interceptions. However, he also has some elite weapons around him. Najee Harris has run for 1,387 yards and 24 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide, while DeVonta Smith has caught 105 passes for 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns. Those three have been crucial to Alabama’s success and ultimately helped them defeat Notre Dame 31-14 in the CFP semifinals.
Their upcoming opponent, though, is also very tough. Ohio State has only played in seven games this year due to COVID-19, but their offense is scoring 43.4 points per game, and absolutely dominated Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers in the semifinals, helping the Buckeyes win 49-28.
Like Bama, Ohio State also has some big-time weapons on offense. In seven games, Justin Fields has thrown for 1,906 yards, 21 touchdowns, and six interceptions, while Trey Sermon has run for 868 yards and four touchdowns. Sermon also ran for 331 yards in the Big Ten Championship Game and 193 yards in the CFP semifinal.
Fields has some great receivers, too. Garrett Wilson has caught 40 passes for 673 yards and five touchdowns in seven games, while Chris Olave has caught 42 passes for 660 yards and seven touchdowns in six games.
All these weapons on both teams could make for an interesting championship game. However, Alabama’s recent news about Jaylen Waddle could spell doom for the Buckeyes.
Jaylen Waddle was a superstar for Alabama before getting hurt
Jaylen Waddle had two really good seasons for Alabama to start his career. According to Bama’s site, he caught 45 passes for 848 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018. He also returned 16 punts for 233 yards and a touchdown.
Then, in 2019, Waddle caught 33 passes for 560 yards and six touchdowns while returning five kickoffs for 175 yards and a touchdown and 20 punts for 487 yards and a touchdown. He was even a First-Team All-American by CBS Sports and other outlets as a punt returner and was the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year, per his bio.
He was then off to an incredible start in 2020. Through his first five games, Waddle had 25 catches for 557 yards and four touchdowns. It appeared that he was about to have a dynamite year. However, Waddle sadly got hurt, and has been out with a bad ankle injury since Oct. 24.
Many people expected him to be out for the season, but there is actually a chance that he could play in the championship game.
Jaylen Waddle’s potential return could spell doom for Ohio State
According to AL.com, Waddle is reportedly expected to return to practice with the Crimson Tide on Tuesday. It is too early to know whether Waddle will play in the national championship game, but it is a possibility.
This could make things very, very tough for the Buckeyes. Their secondary has struggled this year after losing multiple players to the NFL last season. According to ESPN, in Ohio State’s first six games before the CFP, they ranked last in the Big Ten in pass defense. Their pass D is ultimately a reason why they have allowed their opponents to score 22 points per game this year.
Having to defend Mac Jones and DeVonta Smith will be challenging enough. If Ohio State has to also focus on another elite receiver in Waddle, though, the Buckeyes could be in a lot of trouble.
Ohio State’s defense did show up against Clemson. Lawrence threw for 400 yards, but only had two TD passes, and was picked off once. However, Alabama’s offense, especially if Waddle plays, is a completely different animal.
The CFP national championship game has a ton of storylines surrounding it. Whether Jaylen Waddle plays, though, might be the biggest.
Stats courtesy of Sports Reference