Trey Sermon’s absence definitely felt in title game

By Jim Naveau -

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Losing leading rusher Trey Sermon after his first carry in the College Football Playoff championship game against Alabama was not the only turning point of the game, but it certainly had an effect on Ohio State’s offense.

Sermon had rushed for 112 yards against Michigan State, 331 yards against Northwestern and 193 yards against Clemson in his three previous games.

Monday, his night was over after one carry for two yards when he suffered what appeared to be a collarbone injury.

“You saw what he did the last two games. When we needed him most he gave us his best. Losing him was huge and I think we felt that,” wide receiver Chris Olave said after Alabama’s 52-24 win over the Buckeyes in the championship game.

Tight end Jeremy Ruckert said, “It’s definitely a huge loss, especially how productive he’s been these last couple of weeks. We’ve been relying on him in the run game. We rushed pretty good in the first half. Losing him was definitely detrimental.”

Quarterback Justin Fields was Ohio State’s leading rusher with 67 yards on six carries. Master Teague replaced Sermon and rushed for 65 yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns.

Fields said, “He was hot these last few weeks. When one man goes down we have to bring up the next man. We would have liked to have Trey out there, he’s a baller, he’s a warrior.”

• Davis injured: All-American guard Wyatt Davis left the game late in the first half with a knee injury and had to be helped to the locker room at halftime.

During his postgame Zoom conference, OSU coach Ryan Day said, “He kind of re-injured his knee. He’s sore right now. I’m not sure what the diagnosis is right now.”

• All the unavailables: These players were listed as unavailable by Ohio State for Monday night’s game: Cam Brown, Jacolbe Cowan, Dominic DiMaccio, Ty Hamilton, Jaylen Harris, Blake Haubeil, Dawand Jones, Cade Kacherski, Mitchell Melton, Tyreke Smith, Tommy Togiai, Kourt Williams, Miyan Williams.

• Lots of diplomas: Ohio State had 22 players who have already graduated on its roster for Monday night’s game. Alabama had 16.

• Familiar territory: Alabama has been ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll at least one week every year since 2008. Nick Saban has coached 86 games at Alabama when the Crimson Tide were ranked No. 1.

• By the numbers: Quarterback Mac Jones is the first Alabama quarterback to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season. Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith tied Amari Cooper for the most games with 100 yards or more receiving in a career at Alabama with 14 when he caught 12 passes for 215 yards.

By Jim Naveau