At the end of a season like no other, the stage is finally set for the 2021 College Football Playoff national title game – the Ohio State Buckeyes will face the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The game will be a rematch of the first CFP semifinal, when No. 4 Ohio State defeated No. 1 Alabama, 42-35, in the Sugar Bowl. Monday’s championship game will be the fifth meeting between these programs, as the series dates back to 1978.
Here’s a look at the history of the series between Crimson Tide and Buckeyes, as Alabama has a 3-1 lead.
1978 Sugar Bowl: No. 3 Alabama 35, No. 9 Ohio State 6
The first showdown in the series featured a pair of iconic coaches nearing the end of their historic careers. Bear Bryant, then in his 20th season, had led the Tide to an SEC championship for the 10th time and had four national championships at the time of this game. Ohio State’s Woody Hayes was in his twenty-seventh and penultimate season with the Buckeyes, and in 1987 he won his thirteenth and final Big Ten title. It was the only meeting Bryant and Hayes had in their careers.
Alabama won in a beating, finishing the season 11-1 en route to a second place finish in the latest AP poll. The Tide received 19 1/3 votes for first place (seemingly allowed to split a vote in three directions) in the latest poll, but finished behind Notre Dame, which also finished 11-1. The Irish were ranked No. 5 before beating No. 1 Texas, 38-10, in the Cotton Bowl.
It’s worth mentioning that Notre Dame’s only loss of the season was a 20-13 loss to Ole Miss, who finished 5-6. Alabama beat Ole Miss in the first game of the season, 34-13. The Tide lost by touchdown the following week at Nebraska, which ended the season 9-3 and ranked 12th.
1986 Kickoff Classic: No. 5 Alabama 16, No. 9 Ohio State 10
The two teams met in East Rutherford, NJ, for the Kickoff Classic event that ran annually from 1983 to 2002. The game was a defensive match, with Alabama beating Ohio State 10-0 in the fourth quarter to achieve the comeback. . The Tide won its first seven games and rose to No. 2 in the AP poll before losing three of its last five regular-season games, including a 21-17 loss to No. 14 Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
Meanwhile, the Buckeyes would lose their next game the following week to Washington, but they bounced back with a nine-game winning streak. That run was interrupted in a 26-24 loss to No. 6 Michigan in the final game of the regular season. Michigan finished the year beating No. 8 Texas Am in the Cotton Bowl, while Alabama beat No. 12 Washington in the Sun Bowl.
1995 Citrus Bowl: No. 6 Alabama 24, No. 13 Ohio State 17
Alabama found itself in the Citrus Bowl to crown the 1994 season after Tide was defeated in the SEC Championship Game by No. 6 Florida, 24-23. Ohio State was 9-3 entering the game and was coming off a 22-6 victory over rival Michigan. The Buckeyes led, 17-14, with less than nine minutes to play, and The Tide tied the score on a field goal with 4:29 to play. Alabama took the lead with a 50-yard touchdown pass from Jay Barker to Sherman Williams with 42 seconds left, and ranked No. 5 in the final AP poll.
2015 Sugar Bowl (college football playoff semifinal): No. 4 Ohio State 42, No. 1 Alabama 35
Ohio State was led by its third quarterback Candle Jones, who was forced to act after the injuries of JT Barrett and Braxton Miller. The Buckeyes relied on a stellar night from running back Ezekiel Elliott, who ripped through the Alabama defense for 230 rushing yards and two TDs on 20 carries.
Ohio State fell behind, 21-6, midway through the second quarter before going on a 28-0 streak to take a 34-21 lead late in the third quarter. The Buckeyes faced Oregon in the national title game, winning 42-20 to win the program’s first national championship since 2002.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.