2021 College Football Playoff National Championship
7th College Football Playoff National Championship
2021 CFP Miami logo.png
1234 Total
Ohio State 71070 24
Alabama 728107 52
DateJanuary 11, 2021
StadiumHard Rock Stadium
LocationMiami Gardens, Florida
MVPOffensive: #6 WR DeVonta Smith, Sr. Alabama[1]
Defensive: #58 DT Christian Barmore, So. Alabama[1]
FavoriteAlabama by 9.5[2]
RefereeBrandon Cruse (Big 12)[3]
United States TV coverage
NetworkESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio
AnnouncersChris Fowler (play-by-play)
Kirk Herbstreit (analyst)
Maria Taylor and Allison Williams (sideline)
ESPN Deportes: Eduardo Varela and Pablo Viruega
ESPN Radio: Sean McDonough and Greg McElroy
Nielsen ratings10.31 (18.71 million viewers)[5]
International TV coverage
NetworkESPN Brasil
AnnouncersAri Aguiar (play-by-play) and Paulo Mancha (analyst)
College Football Playoff National Championship
 < 2020  2022

The 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship was a college football bowl game played on January 11, 2021, with kickoff at 8:15 p.m. EST at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida and was televised by ESPN. The seventh College Football Playoff National Championship, the game determined a national champion in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) for the 2020 season. Aside from the all-star games scheduled to follow, it was the culminating game of the 2020–21 bowl season. Sponsored by telecommunications company AT&T, the game was officially known as the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T.

The championship featured the winner of the Rose Bowl, the top-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide from the Southeastern Conference (SEC) dominating the winners of the Sugar Bowl, the third-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes from the Big Ten Conference, 52–24. The win gave Alabama head coach Nick Saban his seventh national championship, breaking Bear Bryant's[a] record for the most by a Division I college football coach.[6][b]


In August 2018, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, was announced as the host site for the seventh College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship.[7] The Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl were designated as semifinal games; both semifinals were scheduled for January 1, 2021.[8]

On August 5, 2020, CFP organizers announced that they would move the release of final rankings and semifinal matchups (sometimes referred to as "Selection Weekend") from December 6 to 20, in order to accommodate conferences that had delayed their championship games to mid-December.[9] On December 20, the semifinal pairings were announced, with No. 1 Alabama matched with No. 4 Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl, and No. 2 Clemson matched with No. 3 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.[10]

The Rose Bowl game, normally played in Pasadena, California, was moved to Arlington, Texas, prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic in California.[11][12] As the 2020 FBS season was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, CFP organizers had identified a contingency date of January 18 for the championship game,[13] which did not need to be used. Attendance at Hard Rock Stadium was limited to approximately 20% of normal capacity,[14] with the official attendance listed as 14,926.[4]

2021 College Football Playoff

Hard Rock Stadium (seen during Super Bowl LIV the previous year), site of the National Championship game
Hard Rock Stadium (seen during Super Bowl LIV the previous year), site of the National Championship game
Semifinals Championship
January 1 – Rose Bowl
AT&T Stadium, Arlington
  1   Alabama 31  
  4   Notre Dame 14   January 11 – National Championship
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens
      1   Alabama 52
January 1 – Sugar Bowl
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
    3   Ohio State 24
  2   Clemson 28
  3   Ohio State 49  


The game featured No. 1 Alabama, winner of the Rose Bowl, and No. 3 Ohio State, winner of the Sugar Bowl. The teams had previously met four times, with Alabama holding a 3–1 edge.[15] Their most recent meeting had been in the 2015 Sugar Bowl, a CFP semifinal, which was won by Ohio State, 42–35.[15]

Alabama Crimson Tide

Main article: 2020 Alabama Crimson Tide football team

Alabama entered the National Championship game with a 12–0 record, having won all 10 of their Southeastern Conference (SEC) regular season games, followed by a win over Florida in the SEC Championship Game, and a win over Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl CFP semifinal.[16] Alabama had a record of 2–2 in prior CFP National Championship games, having won in 2016 and 2018 and having lost in 2017 and 2019.[17]

Ohio State Buckeyes

Main article: 2020 Ohio State Buckeyes football team

Ohio State entered the game with a record of 7–0, having won all five of their Big Ten Conference regular season games, followed by a win over Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game,[18] and a win over Clemson in the Sugar Bowl CFP semifinal.[19] Ohio State had appeared in one prior CFP National Championship game, having won the inaugural edition in 2015, after defeating Alabama in the semifinal.[20] On January 11, the Buckeyes advised that 13 players would not be available for the game, including two starting defensive linemen (Tommy Togiai and Tyreke Smith) and two kickers (Blake Haubeil and Dominic DiMaccio); specific reasons were not provided, but at least one player's post on social media indicated that it was due to a positive COVID-19 test.[21]

Starting lineups

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day
Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones
Ohio State Position Alabama
Jameson Williams 1 WR DeVonta Smith 1
Chris Olave 1 WR Slade Bolden
Thayer Munford 7 LT Alex Leatherwood 1
Matthew Jones LG Deonte Brown 6
Josh Myers 2 C Chris Owens
Wyatt Davis 3 RG Emil Ekiyor Jr.
Nicholas Petit-Frere 3 RT Evan Neal 1
Luke Farrell 5 TE Miller Forristall
Garrett Wilson 1 WR John Metchie III 2
Justin Fields 1 QB Mac Jones 1
Trey Sermon 3 RB Najee Harris 1
Jonathon Cooper 7 DE Christian Barmore 2
Jerron Cage DT NG DJ Dale
Haskell Garrett DT STAR Brian Branch
Javontae Jean-Baptist DE LB Christian Harris 3
Tuf Borland LB Dylan Moses
Justin Hilliard LB Will Anderson Jr.
Pete Werner 2 LB Christopher Allen
Sevyn Banks CB Patrick Surtain II 1
Marcus Williamson S Jordan Battle
Josh Proctor S FS DeMarcco Hellams
Shaun Wade 5 CB Josh Jobe
† 2020 All-American
Selected in an NFL Draft
(number corresponds to draft round)


Game summary

Najee Harris scored the games first touchdown (pictured)
Najee Harris scored the games first touchdown (pictured)

Alabama won the coin toss and deferred possession to the second half. Ohio State's opening position began on the 25 following a touchback, but quickly fizzled into a three-and-out. Alabama started their opening drive at their own 22-yard-line following the punt and picked up four first downs en route to a 4th-and-goal rushing touchdown by Najee Harris to open the scoring. During the drive, cameras showed Ohio State running back Trey Sermon walking to the locker room with an apparent shoulder injury sustained on the first play of the game. Alabama kicker Will Reichard resumed the game with another touchback, giving the Buckeyes the football on the 25-yard-line again. Ohio State's second drive looked very different from their first: Master Teague scored a touchdown on an eight yard rush to cap an eight-play drive and tie the game. Filling in for kicker Blake Haubeil, who did not travel with the Ohio State team due to COVID issues, punter Drue Chrisman handled the kickoff, which was taken back to the 25. Alabama drove all the way to the Ohio State five-yard-line, including another 4th down conversion, before the quarter expired with the score tied at seven.[23]

Offensive MVP DeVonta Smith
Offensive MVP DeVonta Smith

On the second quarter's opening play, Tide quarterback Mac Jones connected with Heisman winner DeVonta Smith for a five-yard passing touchdown, giving Alabama a lead it would not relinquish for the rest of the game. Following the conclusion of the drive, it was announced that Trey Sermon was on the way to the hospital and would not return for the game. Ohio State's ensuing drive began on the 25 after a touchback. The Buckeyes drove the ball to the Alabama 44 before stalling; the ensuing punt was downed by the Tide at their own 12-yard-line. Alabama started their next drive well, with a 12-yard pass from Jones to Smith, before Ohio State linebacker Baron Browning sacked Jones and forced a fumble, which he recovered. Ohio State took one play to find the end zone – following a pass interference in the end zone, the Buckeyes got the ball on the 4-yard-line and tied the game with a Master Teague rushing touchdown, his second of the contest. The Tide responded quickly; it took them only five plays to score on a Najee Harris 26-yard reception, giving them back a touchdown lead. On the ensuing Ohio State drive, Alabama safety Jordan Battle was disqualified for targeting; the Buckeyes finished the drive with a field goal, cutting the Alabama lead to four. Alabama's next drive began on their own 25, and the Tide's offense had no problem moving the ball down the field again, with Jones finding Smith for the second time to take a two-possession lead. The Buckeyes' offense gained only four yards on their ensuing drive, and they punted for the second time. Smith returned the punt for 19 yards, setting Alabama up at their own 40-yard-line. Alabama scored even more quickly on this drive – Smith found the end zone on a 42-yard pass on just the third play of the drive to extend the lead to 18 points. Ohio State ended their final drive of the first half with another three-and-out, and their defense held with seconds left on the clock in the half and forced an Alabama punt, their first of the game. Ohio State knelt the ball and ended the first half, with Alabama leading 35–17 at halftime.[23]

Alabama started their first drive of the second half with the ball on their own 23-yard-line, and ended the drive with a Will Reichard field goal sixteen plays later, making this drive the game's longest. Ohio State responded with their shortest touchdown drive of the contest, as a 33-yard rush by Justin Fields set up a 20-yard pass from Fields to wide receiver Garrett Wilson, cutting Alabama's lead back to two touchdowns. During Alabama's ensuing drive, DeVonta Smith suffered a hand injury that caused him to retreat to the locker room.[24] The Crimson Tide scored again, as Slade Bolden caught a five-yard Mac Jones pass and increased the lead back to 21. Ohio State's first turnover of the game, a turnover on downs, ended their next drive at their own 43-yard-line, and the third quarter ended shortly thereafter.[23]

Alabama increased their lead to four touchdowns on the fourth play of the game's final quarter, as Najee Harris scored for the second time. Ohio State's next drive saw them take the ball all the way to the Alabama 6-yard-line, but an incomplete pass on 4th & goal ended the Buckeyes' drive with a turnover on downs. Neither offense could capitalize on their next possession, as the teams then traded three-and-outs. Alabama was able to run the remaining clock out and the game and football season concluded with the Crimson Tide as national champions, 52–24.[23] Despite being injured in the third quarter, DeVonta Smith was named the offensive most valuable player (MVP), and Christian Barmore of Alabama's defensive line was named defensive MVP.[1]

2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game
1 2 34Total
No. 3 Ohio State 7 10 7024
No. 1 Alabama 7 28 10752

at Hard Rock StadiumMiami Gardens, Florida

Game information
First quarter
  • (8:07) BAMA – Najee Harris 1 yard rush, Will Reichard kick (Drive: 12 plays, 78 yards, 5:32; Alabama 7–0)
  • (4:55) OSU – Master Teague 8 yard rush, Jake Seibert kick (Drive: 8 plays, 75 yards, 3:12; Tied 7–7)
Second quarter
  • (14:53) BAMA – DeVonta Smith 5 yard pass from Mac Jones, Will Reichard kick (Drive: 11 plays, 75 yards, 4:58; Alabama 14–7)
  • (11:43) OSU – Master Teague 4 yard rush, Jake Seibert kick (Drive: 1 play, 19 yards, 0:11; Tied 14–14)
  • (9:00) BAMA – Najee Harris 26 yard pass from Mac Jones, Will Reichard kick (Drive: 5 plays, 75 yards, 2:43; Alabama 21–14)
  • (5:21) OSU – Jake Seibert 23 yard field goal (Drive: 9 plays, 69 yards, 3:39; Alabama 21–17)
  • (3:19) BAMA – DeVonta Smith 5 yard pass from Mac Jones, Will Reichard kick (Drive: 5 plays, 75 yards, 2:02; Alabama 28–17)
  • (1:48) BAMA – DeVonta Smith 42 yard pass from Mac Jones, Will Reichard kick (Drive: 3 plays, 60 yards, 1:41; Alabama 35–17)
Third quarter
  • (7:47) BAMA – Will Reichard 20 yard field goal (Drive: 16 plays, 75 yards, 7:08; Alabama 38–17)
  • (6:45) OSU – Garrett Wilson 20 yard pass from Justin Fields, Jake Seibert kick (Drive: 3 plays, 75 yards, 1:02; Alabama 38–24)
  • (2:52) BAMA – Slade Bolden 5 yard pass from Mac Jones, Will Reichard kick (Drive: 8 plays, 75 yards, 3:53; Alabama 45–24)
Fourth quarter
  • (13:15) BAMA – Najee Harris 1 yard rush, Will Reichard kick (Drive: 6 plays, 43 yards, 2:47; Alabama 52–24)


Statistics Ohio State Alabama
First downs 19 33
Plays–yards 62–341 83–621
Rushes–yards 29–147 38–157
Passing yards 194 464
Passing: comp–att–int 17–33–0 36–45–0
Time of possession 22:34 37:26
Team Category Player Statistics
Ohio State Passing Justin Fields 17/33, 194 yards, 1 TD
Rushing Justin Fields 6 carries, 67 yards
Receiving Chris Olave 8 receptions, 69 yards
Alabama Passing Mac Jones 36/45, 464 yards, 5 TD
Rushing Najee Harris 22 carries, 79 yards, 2 TD
Receiving DeVonta Smith 12 receptions, 215 yards, 3 TD


The game was televised nationally in the United States by ESPN for the seventh straight year, along with its sister networks and ESPN+ in a "Megacast" made up of several other channels, including game data, radio calls from the Ohio State and Alabama radio networks, stadium audio-only, and other camera angles. The game announcers were Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, with Maria Taylor and Allison Williams serving as sideline reporters.[25]

See also


  1. ^ Bryant won six titles during his tenure with Alabama (1958–1982)
  2. ^ See also College football national championships in NCAA Division I FBS


  1. ^ a b c Zucker, Joseph (January 11, 2021). "DeVonta Smith, Christian Barmore Win College Football National Championship MVPs". Bleacher Report. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  2. ^ "Alabama vs. Ohio State Updated Odds". oddsshark.com. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  3. ^ Austro, Ben (December 23, 2020). "2020–21 bowl officiating assignments". footballzebras.com. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Bieler, Des; Culpepper, Chuck (January 11, 2021). "The Alabama football dynasty collects another title with a 52–24 rout of Ohio State". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  5. ^ "Record-low audience for Alabama-Ohio State". sportsmediawatch.com. Sports Media Watch. January 13, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  6. ^ Pickman, Ben (January 12, 2021). "Nick Saban Passes Bear Bryant for Most Titles in CFB History". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  7. ^ "CFP Dates Announced For College Football Playoff Games Through 2026". CollegeFootballPlayoff.com. August 30, 2018. Retrieved August 30, 2018.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "College Football Bowl Schedule 2020". fbschedules.com. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  9. ^ Dinich, Heather (August 5, 2020). "College Football Playoff selection committee moves final ranking release to Dec. 20 from Dec. 6". ESPN.com. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  10. ^ Al-Khateeb, Zac (December 21, 2020). "College Football Playoff rankings: Who are the four teams in the final CFP poll release of 2020?". Sporting News. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  11. ^ "Rose Bowl CFP semifinal moved to AT&T Stadium". ESPN.com. December 20, 2020. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  12. ^ "Statement from City of Pasadena Regarding 2021 Rose Bowl Game". cityofpasadena.net (Press release). December 30, 2020. Retrieved December 30, 2020. Unprecedented is truly an understatement. That is why the City of Pasadena has agreed to allow the Tournament of Roses to relocate the official Rose Bowl Game in 2021. The Rose Bowl Game will not relocate again from Pasadena, unless it is forced to due to a national emergency.
  13. ^ Shapiro, Michael (December 30, 2020). "College Football Playoff Chooses Makeup Dates in COVID-19 Contingency Plan". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  14. ^ Ward, Allison. "Ohio State fans nationwide find ways to revel in championship berth". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  15. ^ a b "Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Ohio State Buckeyes football series history games list". winsipedia.com. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  16. ^ "No. 1 Alabama defeats No. 4 Notre Dame in College Football Playoff Semifinal | NCAA.com". www.ncaa.com.
  17. ^ "Why Alabama will (or won't) win the College Football Playoff". www.sportingnews.com.
  18. ^ Rabinowitz, Bill. "Sermon carries No. 4 Ohio State past No. 14 Northwestern for another Big Ten title". USA TODAY.
  19. ^ "Ohio State plays disrespect card to perfection in blowout of Clemson". www.sportingnews.com.
  20. ^ "Alabama, Ohio State to meet for college football's national championship". WTKR. January 3, 2021.
  21. ^ Hartman, Marcus (January 11, 2021). "National Championship: Ohio State to face Alabama without top kicker, 2 starters on D-line". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  22. ^ "#3 Ohio State at #1 Alabama". statbroadcast.com. January 11, 2021. p. Notes. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  23. ^ a b c d "ESPN – Play by Play – Ohio State vs. Alabama – January 11, 2021" (January 11, 2021). ESPN.com. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  24. ^ Kercheval, Ben. "Alabama WR DeVonta Smith breaks records in first half, injuries hand in second half of national championship". CBSSports.com. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  25. ^ Brooks, Amanda (January 7, 2021). "ESPN's MegaCast Returns with 14 Presentations for College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday, Jan. 11". ESPN.com (Press release). Retrieved January 7, 2021.