Alabama football in CFP National Championship: 3 things to know about Ohio State Buckeyes

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports

While Alabama football was flying back home from a comfortable semifinal win, Ohio State was in the midst of an even more dominating win, securing its spot as the Tide's opponent in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

Here are three things to know about the Buckeyes before the Crimson Tide plays them on Jan. 11.

The Buckeyes run the ball

Quarterback Justin Fields has been the center of attention since his transfer from Georgia, but Ohio State’s offense is far from reliant on his ability. Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon is averaging 124 yards per game and 7.5 yards per carry. He's coming off of an impressive 31-carry, 193-yard and one-touchdown showing against Clemson.

Sermon had a huge workload against the Tigers in the absence of Master Teague. 

Neither is particularly valuable as a pass catcher — they combine for 12 receptions — but they are not needed in that sense, They both average at least 14 carries per game, despite Fields averaging 11 going into the semifinal.

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Some shall pass, but none will run

Ohio State has allowed just 229 rushing yards over its last four games, allowing 57.25 per game and 2.29 per carry in that stretch. Its dominance in the showdown with No. 11 Indiana — holding the Hoosiers to minus-1 rushing yards on 16 carries — may have been surpassed by holding Clemson running back Travis Etienne to 32 yards on 10 carries. 

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The Buckeyes only sacked Trevor Lawrence twice but still held him to minus-8 rushing yards on 10 carries.

This matchup could go a long way toward determining the outcome of the game: UA has run for 170 or more yards in seven of its 12 games, while Ohio State has allowed 170 or more rushing yards just three times dating back to the beginning of the 2019 season.

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Wilson, Olave are a two-man show

Sophomore wide receiver Garrett Wilson and junior wide receiver Chris Olave have combined for 82 catches, All other Buckeyes have combined for 59.

Olave was lethal against Clemson, catching six passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns, but on the whole, the two have been equal fixtures of the offense. Wilson and Olave have 673 and 660 yards, respectively, and were tied in touchdowns before Olave’s two in the semifinal.

When it’s not Olave or Wilson, it’s not uncommon for Ohio State to turn to tight end Jeremy Ruckert as a drive finisher. He has 12 catches, five of them for touchdowns. Two of his three receptions in the semifinal scored touchdowns.

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or bhudson@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson