Alabama rolls to 35-17 halftime lead over Ohio State

Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith and No. 1 Alabama were nearly unstoppable in taking a 35-17 halftime lead on No. 3 Ohio State in the College Football Playoff national championship game Monday in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Smith had 12 catches for 215 yards and touchdowns of 5, 5 and 42 yards. In just one half, the senior wide receiver already had set the receptions record for a Bowl Championship Series or CFP title game, and he was second for most receiving yards in a BCS or CFP championship contest.

Najee Harris added a 1-yard TD run and a 26-yard TD catch as the Crimson Tide scored on five of their first six possessions.

The only blemish was quarterback Mac Jones being strip-sacked by Baron Browning with Browning recovering the ball at the Crimson Tide 19. The second TD run of the game for Ohio State’s Master Teague III, playing for the injured Trey Sermon, made it 14-14 early in the second quarter.

Harris’ subsequent touchdown catch made it 21-14. After the Buckeyes pulled within 21-17, Jones connected twice with Smith.

Jones was 25 of 30 for a 342 yards and four TDs before the break.

Sermon, who had 524 rushing yards in the previous two games combined, carried for 2 yards on the first play from scrimmage, then left with a possible collarbone injury and did not return.

The Buckeyes had 13 players unavailable, including three starters, defensive tackle Tommy Togiai, defensive end Tyreke Smith and kicker Blake Haubeil. The school did give reasons for their absences, although the team has been hit hard by COVID-19 issues.