This is the chance that Ohio State has needed for almost a decade. After back-to-back BCS Championship Game blowout losses against the SEC in the mid-2000s, the Buckeyes haven't gotten the benefit of the doubt in a long time. This year, after sneaking into the College Football Playoff field with a stunning 59-0 blowout of Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, OSU will get its chance as it takes on No. 1 Alabama.
Of course, this will be a very difficult challenge for a Buckeyes team that is still on its third quarterback of the year. Alabama has a very solid defense (though not the best it's had in recent years) and an offense that has opened things up under new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.
At the beginning of the year, you could have seen this matchup coming, either in a semifinal or in the national championship. But you couldn't have predicted that we'd see Cardale Jones taking on Blake Sims in a game that seemed impossible a month prior to the selection show. But after everything that happened, it's Big Ten vs. SEC, Ohio State vs. Alabama. What more could you ask for in the Playoff's first year?
How to watch, listen, and stream
Game time: ESPN's announced the game time has moved back to 9 p.m. ET, due to the Rose Bowl going long.
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Rankings and records: Alabama is 12-1 and ranked No. 1 by the College Football Playoff selection committee. Ohio State is 12-1 and ranked No. 4.
Vegas: Alabama is a 9-point favorite over the Buckeyes. The over/under is 58.5.
Weather forecast: Sterile and domed.
Two things at stake
The biggest thing at stake? A spot in the national championship game in Dallas.
This is also an opportunity for Ohio State to get a statement win over the SEC. If Alabama wins, then the SEC's bragging rights extend yet another year.
One big matchup
Cardale Jones vs. the Alabama defense. I'm actually very interested in seeing how the Ohio State pass defense holds up against Blake Sims and Amari Cooper, as the OSU secondary's play will have a major effect on the game. However, if you have to just pick one matchup to focus on, it has to be Cardale Jones against the Crimson Tide's defense. Jones starred against Wisconsin, but this will be a very tough test, as well. Does he have what it takes to be efficient once again, this time against the Tide defense?