Here are some of the highlights from the Sugar Bowl on Thursday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
In the end, the panel of experts for the College Football Playoff got the right four teams in the playoffs. Ohio State struggled early offensively, but found its groove and gave favored Alabama all it could handle. This game proved the decision to elevate the Buckeyes ahead of TCU and Baylor was the right thing to do. The Buckeyes outplayed Alabama for most of the game, and their fight and discipline made the Sugar Bowl special.
THIS JUST IN ...
New Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is going to have his hands full dealing with these young, talented Buckeyes the next few years. Urban Meyer has built this team into a national power. Ohio State has the perfect blend of Southeastern Conference speed with Big 10 toughness. Les Miles would be envious.
AND THE WINNER IS ... KIFFIN
Alabama coach Lane Kiffin has proved he deserves a third chance to be a head coach because of his work this season and the maturity he should have received by osmosis from working under Nick Saban. Kiffin built Alabama into a strong, disciplined offensive machine and developed quarterback Blake Sims into a decent starter. Now Kiffin is ready to lead a big-time program. He wasn’t ready his first two times at Tennessee and Southern California.
The MYTH IS DEAD
It is one of the great myths in college football that ranks right up there with Notre Dame winning because of the “luck of the Irish.” This idea that a Saban-coached team is unbeatable in a bowl game because of the long preparation time for its defense has been disproved in the past two Sugar Bowls. Oklahoma marched up and down the field in a 45-31 victory against the Tide last year. Ohio State racked up 537 yards total offense. The Alabama defensive backs are still as vulnerable to the deep pass as they were during the season, with their only saving grace being the team can usually sack the quarterback before he has time to throw long. Alabama’s defensive line and linebackers are good; its secondary is mostly average.
Time FOR ... MILLER to pack
You can’t help but feel bad for Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes original starting quarterback who suffered a season-ending torn labrum in his right shoulder before the start of the season. Miller’s injury started the team’s quarterback carousel. But Ohio State has too many quarterbacks with sophomore Cardale Jones playing in this game and previous starter J.T. Barrett, who had a strong season before fracturing his ankle in the victory against Michigan, Hint: Miller would look good in an LSU uniform and could make the Tigers great.
Pierce W. Huff