You've made it to the end of the week, which means we are now just three days away from the national title game. After rumors cropped up earlier in the week about potential postponement over some positive COVID-19 cases at Ohio State, it appears we are still on track for everything to go on as scheduled on Monday night — but we will get to that a bit later.
The Buckeyes are set to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in Miami for what would be one of the most unlikely championships the program has ever seen. First it looked as though there would be no Ohio State football season at all, and then once they got back on the field it didn’t always seem like they were quite the caliber of team who could make it this far. However, they've proved all of the doubters wrong, and through all of the adversity and following a complete beatdown of the Clemson Tigers, they will now compete for the sport’s ultimate trophy.
Let’s kick off the weekend with all of Friday’s headlines.
From around Land-Grant Holy Land...
From around the gridiron...
Obviously the big story everyone on the beat has been following this week is the potential COVID-19 outbreak at Ohio State. While nothing has been confirmed by the school in terms of new cases, there have been rumors circulating around social media that Monday night’s game was in jeopardy as the result of the virus. There is still a very good chance we will see a few Buckeyes missing for the national title game, but the game will take place as scheduled.
Confirmed with both schools. Game on. Bama landing in Miami at 8pm ET tonight, Ohio State boarding plane tomorrow, arriving at 6pm ET. Speculation over. Repeat, GAME ON.— Heather Dinich (@CFBHeather) January 8, 2021
The Woody Hayes Athletic Center remained open for business again today, and Ohio State practiced as scheduled. The Buckeyes will leave for South Florida on Saturday and still remain on track for the title game on Monday.— Lettermen Row (@LettermenRow) January 8, 2021
Which is why you don't listen to folks like Dan Patrick, who has been wrong at seemingly every turn this season as he tries to be first reporting the news instead of any indulging in any sort of actual fact checking or accuracy. There is simply no way Ohio State is down 20 scholarship players, as the resulting contract tracing would likely wipe out nearly the entire team. If an outbreak of that scale happened in Columbus, we would have seen the facility shut down to stop the spread before it got worse — which we did not remotely see as the team practiced every day this week.
DP is just Sir Yacht with a bigger platform these days.
Update on #CFBPlayoffs National Title— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) January 8, 2021
-The #BigTen / #OhioState reached out to the #SEC about postponing the National title game, they were told no.
-#Buckeyes will test today. May currently have upwards of 20 positive tests.
-Jaylen Waddle is expected to play Monday #RollTide pic.twitter.com/Q80tBy2QAe
Whether it be at full strength or not, Ohio State will not have the luxury of a pretty decent talent gap like they had over Clemson — at least on paper. According to the 247Spots rankings, these two teams are very similar in makeup, and are two of the most talented teams in the country (shocker).
Ohio State held a pretty substantial advantage over Clemson in terms of recruiting rankings and player ratings.— Zack Carpenter (@Zack_Carp) January 8, 2021
We took a look at how the Buckeyes stack up against Alabama:https://t.co/JFvXL78Ind
Congratulations to former Ohio State center Corey Linsley, who has first-team AP All-Pro honors for the first time in his NFL career. Former Buckeye defensive lineman Cam Heyward was named to the second team.
2020 AP NFL All-Pro First Team. pic.twitter.com/wJX7pNsWn4— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 8, 2021
While none of the same players remain on either roster, the jersey matchup will look identical to the Ohio State-Alabama semifinal matchup in 2014, as the Buckeyes will once again don their white jerseys with the gray sleeves — their best jerseys, imo. It is the same ones they wore against Clemson in this year’s Sugar Bowl as well.
All aboard the Paris Johnson Jr. hype train. After watching him pancake a Clemson defender while playing away from his natural position for a few snaps last time out, I am fully in on the five-star freshman. Josh Myers even went as far as to say he would be shocked if Johnson doesn’t win the Outland Trophy before his Ohio State career is over.
An old friend has found his way to Happy Valley. We’ll see how it plays out for them.
What has been the key to Trey Sermon’s late-season resurgence? The answer may be his offseason trainer/professional hype man Rischad Whitfield.
“All Trey needed is for me to talk to him. When I talked to him, he knew what time it was. I got one more time to talk to him, and Alabama’s in trouble.” - Rischard Whitfield (@footwork_king1) on turning Trey Sermon into Ohio State’s X-factor https://t.co/u0FWd2Cooh— Stephen Means (@Stephen_Means) January 8, 2021
Party time in Columbus! Give that man a lifetime deal!
I have confirmed with Jim Harbaugh that his extension with Michigan has been signed.— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) January 8, 2021
From around the hardwood...
ICYMI yesterday, CJ Walker will be out for an indefinite period of time with torn ligaments in his right hand. Ohio State will need guys like Jimmy Sotos and eventually Meechie Johnson to fill in during his absence.
Looking forward to a good, clean matchup in Piscataway tomorrow afternoon.
Rutgers gets their rematch with Ohio State tomorrow at 12:00, a game where there's not supposed to be "any cheating shit" this time.— Connor Lemons (@lemons_connor) January 8, 2021
Rutgers blew a 16-point lead in their loss to OSU last month. pic.twitter.com/VxaJ8T4OF8
From everywhere else...
There will be a different type of shot going down at the Schott in the near future.
Ohio State will give COVID-19 shots at 'the Schott' when public rollout starts https://t.co/InPU0V7yew— Columbus Dispatch (@DispatchAlerts) January 8, 2021
Sorry Indians fans, but congrats to all my fellow Mets fans.
Shoutout to RJ Young getting a gig at Fox Sports. If you haven’t seen any of his content to this point, I would highly recommend checking him out. He has done a fantastic job covering college football on multiple platforms, and it’s great to see his hard work pay off!
Started on a step mill now we here.— RJ Young (@RJ_Young) January 7, 2021
Started on a step mill now the whole team here. pic.twitter.com/nLh3SOiibx
Even on the brink of the national title game, it is never a bad time for Ohio State to get their digs in at Michigan. Bravo, social media team.