The stage has officially been set for the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship.
After punching their tickets to Miami in dominant fashion on Friday, the No. 1 seed Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0) and No. 3 seed Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0) will face off on Monday, Jan. 11, inside Hard Rock Stadium.
Led by Heisman finalist Justin Fields, the Buckeyes exploded against No. 2 Clemson en route to a 49-28 victory in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The junior QB outdueled fellow highly-touted prospect Trevor Lawrence and finished the nightcap with a career-high 385 yards (22-of-28), six (!) touchdowns, an interception and Offensive MVP honors.
Lawrence also had a big day in just the second loss of his tremendous career, completing 33 of 48 pass attempts for 400 yards, two TDs and a pick. OSU running back Trey Sermon deserves a shout out as well for his monster performance, rushing 31 times for 193 yards and a touchdown.
A thunderous hit from Tigers safety James Skalski to Fields' ribs as he scrambled his way up field in the second quarter threatened to jeopardize what eventually became a historic night for OSU's star signal-caller.
Skalski, who was ejected for targeting in last season's CFP title game, was disqualified for the hit while Fields missed just one play before returning to throw a TD to receiver Chris Olave to put Ohio State up 28-14. Fields was noticeably in discomfort for the remainder of the contest, but avenging his program's heartbreaking loss to Clemson a year ago probably lessened the pain to a certain extent.
Fields' health will be something to watch in the days ahead as the Buckeyes prepare to take on a Crimson Tide team that handled No. 4 Notre Dame earlier in the day.
Quarterback Mac Jones and receiver DeVonta Smith, Alabama's pair of Heisman hopefuls, continued their sensational seasons in the Tide's 31-14 win over the Fighting Irish in the Rose Bowl Game.
Jones went 25-of-30 for 297 yards and four TDs and enjoyed a relatively clean pocket for the duration. Smith compiled a seven-catch, 130-yard, three-TD stat line and took home Offensive MVP honors for his effort.
Running back Najee Harris, who finished fifth in Heisman voting, stormed his way to 125 yards (and a ridiculous hurdle) on 15 carries.