It’s the first Monday of 2021, and I’m willing to bet no one was more unproductive today than Ohioans. Returning to work after Christmas and New Years is one thing. Returning to work after Christmas, New Years, Ohio State beating Clemson and the Browns securing a playoff spot for the first time since 2002 is a whole other animal. Hopefully you made it through the day, answered a few emails, told your coworkers you’ll get to whatever it is later, and are finally home, ready for an 8:30 p.m. bedtime. Rest up, friends! Because we gotta do this all over again next week.
Ohio State vs. Alabama is going to kick off about 21 hours after Browns vs. Steelers ends.— Doug Lesmerises (@DougLesmerises) January 4, 2021
Sunday night: The Browns play the Steelers in the playoffs.— David Wysong (@DavidWysong_) January 4, 2021
Monday night: Ohio State plays Bama in the national championship.
Whether the Browns and Buckeyes win or lose, Ohio might be completely burned to the ground by Tuesday.
Before we get into national championship coverage, let’s relive the Sugar Bowl, shall we? Of course we shall!
From around Land-Grant Holy Land...
THE Ohio State Buckeyes now have the best winning percentage in FBS history at 73.09%. It’s good to be a Buckeye.
Champions of the Sugar Bowl...
Ohio State announced their champions of the game on Monday, and there are many. The defensive players of the game include Haskell Garrett, Tommy Togiai, Tyreke Smith and Jonathon Cooper, while Justin Fields and Trey Sermon are the offense’s. The special teams players of the game are Marcus Williamson and Jameson Williams.
Ohio State’s champions from the Sugar Bowl pic.twitter.com/XMqcPfjG8x— Bill Landis (@BillLandis25) January 4, 2021
What the Tide is saying...
Both head coaches and a few players from both natty-bound teams met with reporters on Monday to discuss their preparations and thoughts on the upcoming matchup. First up at the mic, in all his glory: Nick Saban.
The first press conference of national championship game week is underway starting with Alabama coach Nick Saban.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) January 4, 2021
Says playing Ohio State “will be a very challenging game for us all around, but these are the kind of games, if you're a competitor, you look forward to playing in.” pic.twitter.com/xKB1IdLyvm
The head coach of the No. 1 team in the country began by praising Ohio State running back Trey Sermon, saying “he’s playing outstanding football right now” and “the offensive line does a very good job blocking the looks up front.” He also said while he doesn’t know Ryan Day very well, he considers him an “outstanding coach.”
Nick Saban said he doesn't know Ryan Day well, but he thinks Day is an “outstanding coach.” Said Day does a good job controlling the tempo of the game as an offensive play caller.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) January 4, 2021
Next up was arguably the best wide receiver if not player in college football right now, Devonta Smith, who said they weren’t worried about who they were going to face in the championship.
Smith said they were not projecting who they would face in the championship. He said they just practice and prepare.— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) January 4, 2021
Representing the Tide’s defense was cornerback Patrick Surtain II, who had a lot of good things to say about Justin fields. He also said Ohio State’s receivers are “finesse-type of receivers,” they’ve got speed and they can run great routes.
Surtain said Fields has a “tremendous arm” paired with accuracy and mobility.— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) January 4, 2021
What the Buckeyes are saying...
Now for the good guys. Day was up first, who reiterated what he (and everyone else) said postgame— that Justin Fields’ performance on Friday was one of the gutsiest he’s ever seen.
Ryan Day meeting with the media now.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) January 4, 2021
On Justin Fields' performance on Friday: “I thought that was one of the gutsiest performances I've ever seen in person.”
Day said Fields told him “he felt better waking up in the morning than he expected“ on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/CcUJU6qdRL
As for how serious his quarterback’s injury is, Day was pretty vague (per usual), however he expects Fields to play on Monday. That means we can probably rule out broken ribs...right?
Ryan Day said he expects Justin Fields to play Monday. He would not get into the specifics on the injury — a policy Ohio State has followed under Day.— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) January 4, 2021
Day said he has “nothing but the utmost respect” for Saban, saying the man’s record speaks for itself. He said they’re going to have to play even better than they did last week to beat Alabama (and with weaker bulletin board material).
Ryan Day said he didn't pay any attention to Nick Saban ranking Ohio State 5th on his Coaches Poll ballot. He's just focused on preparing for this game.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) January 4, 2021
But if you’re worried about lack of motivation this time around, don’t be. Day assured that while the Clemson win was big, it has never been the end goal.
Ryan Day said, “The goal was never just to beat Clemson, the goal was to win the National Championship.”— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) January 4, 2021
Representing the Buckeyes defense was the AllState Sugar Bowl defensive player of the game, Tuf Borland. Who said Alabama’s offense has “unbelievable talent and unbelievable players.” He agreed with Day that the Buckeyes will have to take it up a notch to beat Alabama, saying they’re “going to have to find another level.”
To defend Alabama's explosive offense, Tuf Borland says Ohio State talks about “keeping them inside of us and keeping them in front of us.”— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) January 4, 2021
Tuf Borland said they practice against “the best offense in the country” each week. He said they have confidence they can compete against anybody.— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) January 4, 2021
Representing the offense was Trey Sermon, who obviously had to explain his on-camera smirk, which was probably the most shared/tweeted photo on Twitter on Friday night.
Trey Sermon on his smirk at the camera: "Just looking at the replay and once the call got reversed, I kind of smirked because I didn't think I was down, but once I kind of saw my knee hit the ground, I was like, 'I just barely touched it.' It was funny."— Colin Hass-Hill (@chasshill) January 4, 2021
This is the one, in case you missed it:
Sermon commented on what it means to be here, preparing to play in the national championship, after all the team has endured this season.
“We persevered through so much, and to have the opportunity to play on the big stage, it means a lot to us,” he said.
He also commented on his own success, saying he’s honored to be in the same conversation as some of Ohio State’s greatest running backs.
Trey Sermon said he remembers watching Ezekiel Elliott’s performance. He said to be in the conversation with the great running backs at Ohio State is a great feeling. He said the offensive line and the tight ends have made his job easy.— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) January 4, 2021
Sermon said the Buckeyes’ have a chip on their shoulder and that they consider themselves “one of the best teams in the country.” That’s because you are, Trey!
Trey Sermon: “We have a pretty big chip on our shoulder. We feel like we're one of the best teams in the country, and we just try to go prove that every time we step on the field. And we all believe in each other. So yes, we have that chip, and we play with it.”— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) January 4, 2021
As always, Eleven Warriors has a bullet list rundown of everything said in today’s media availability.
More updates from today's press conference with Ohio State's Ryan Day, Tuf Borland and Trey Sermon and Alabama's Nick Saban, DeVonta Smith and Patrick Surtain II: https://t.co/I8CqC04euI— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) January 4, 2021
More from around college football...
Not super great news for Ohio State, but Alabama wide receiver and potential first round NFL draft pick, Jaylen Waddle is expected to return to practice tomorrow. Waddle has been since Oct. 24 when he injured his ankle on the opening kickoff vs. Tennessee
Waddles’ potential addition to an offense that is already led by the likes of DeVonta Smith, Mac Jones and Najee Harris is not ideal for the Buckeyes’ defense.
Sources: Jaylen Waddle is expected to return to practice tomorrow for Alabama.— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) January 4, 2021
Too early to tell whether he'll be able to play in the national title game but it's at least a possibility.https://t.co/XAi55OVrFE
SB Nation released their complete 2021 mock draft, with Justin Fields at No. 4 to Atlanta and Wyatt Davis at No. 13 to the Chargers. The real question is are teams really about to sleep on Chris Olave and cause another Terry McLaurin/J.K. Dobbins-esque situation?! Have you GMs learned NOTHING?!
What happens after Trevor Lawrence goes No. 1?— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 4, 2021
Our complete 2021 mock draft has the answers.https://t.co/8Z5A9krDni
From around the hardwood...
The entire 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament will now be held in Indiana this year due to the pandemic, with the majority of games played in Indianapolis. This will allow teams to live and practice in as close to a “bubble,” as possible.
Selection Sunday is still scheduled for March 14 with the Final Four on April 3 and 5, however other preliminary round dates are still TBD.
It's official: the entire 2021 men's basketball tournament will take place in Indiana.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) January 4, 2021
Games at Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Mackey Arena, Assembly Hall. Indiana Convention Center will be used as a practice facility. https://t.co/dzyzVfCkI8
Welp...it seems as though Urban to Jacksonville is actually a thing.
And if you’re asking yourself “why would he do that?” Matt challenges you to a counter question: why wouldn’t he?