Mamba Mentality: How a banged-up Alabama offense still beat down the Buckeyes 

The trifecta was back at it again – with the help of a stellar defense.

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Hannah Saad | @hannah_saad21

Nick Saban gets carried off the field after Alabama clinched its 18th National Championship title.

Even with a postponed season and several COVID-19 restrictions, 2020 didn’t stop the Crimson Tide from a championship drive. Alabama soundly defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 52-24 on Monday night and tied the College Football Playoff National Championship record for largest point differential. 

Star seniors like wide receiver DeVonta Smith and running back Najee Harris returned for one reason: to finish as one of the best offenses in college football history. Alabama was a nine-point favorite before the game, and by halftime they had already covered the spread, up 35-17. 

The key to championship success was unprecedented teamwork – a trait that led Alabama to win their previous 12 games. 

“I think that’s just like part of this team,” Smith said. “Just everybody knowing that there’s going to be some games where you’re going to get all the touches and some games you’re not going to, and I think that’s just everybody just buying into the process and just believing the coaches and everything that they do.”

The praise didn’t end there. 

“I think perseverance is the one word that describes this team the best,” coach Nick Saban said during the ESPN post game show. “This is a team that was always together. Everybody bought into the principals and values of the organization. They did a great job. This is a great team.”

The historic Alabama offense finished the season in the top five in every major passing statistical category among power-five teams. And Jones, Smith and Harris continued to push numbers further to the top Monday night. 

Jones passed for a CFP National Championship record of 464 yards, and Smith and Harris were responsible for 215 and 79 receiving yards respectively, as well as four combined receiving touchdowns. Smith, among all of the record-setting performances, finished his decorated college career by being named CFP Offensive Player of the Game.

We came to dominate. We worked hard. We the best.”

— Christian Barmore

Smith gave credit to the young players who stepped up for him, as well as other Alabama stars like junior wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and senior offensive lineman Landon Dickerson. 

“It just came down to the young guys putting in the work every day of the week, knowing if someone went down they were going to have to come in and do something big,” Smith said. “That’s why you come to Bama.”

Alabama defense’s Red Zone performance was the most underrated of the night. Alabama only allowed 24 points during the game and held Ohio State to a touchdown in the second half. And although Alabama gave up 147 rushing yards, the loss was far and away from the 272 rushing yards per game that Ohio State was averaging coming into the game. 

One of the biggest plays the defense had on the night was a turnover on downs near midfield early in the second half. Sophomore defensive lineman Christian Barmore blew through the Buckeyes’ offensive line and tackled running back Master Teague in the backfield. This play shifted the last of the momentum completely in Alabama’s favor, and the sideline erupted in shouts and fist pumps.

Barmore was called the jell of the defense by multiple players and coaches throughout the season. His fiery energy motivated a struggling defense to transform into one of the best in college football and earned him the title of CFP Defensive Player of the Game. 

The Crimson Tide beat the No. 3, 4 and 5 teams by an average of 24 points, which is almost unprecedented in modern college football. Additionally, Nick Saban won his seventh National Championship, the most for a single coach to win in college football history.

“We came in with Mamba mentality,” Barmore said during the trophy ceremony. “We came to dominate. We worked hard. We the best.”