Kirk Herbstreit identifies the 'x-factor' for the national championship game, challenge for Ohio State defense
Closing in on 24 hours until the national championship, there are two main storylines ahead of the game in Miami between Alabama and Ohio State: Buckeyes QB Justin Fields’ health following a huge hit to the midsection against Clemson, and the Ohio State defense of Alabama’s high-powered offense.
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit addressed both issues, and explained that we will get answers early on in the game for how they’re both trending.
“He’s coming off the best game of his career and the way he played against Clemson, the guts that he showed and ended up with six touchdown passes,” Herbstreit said of Fields during a halftime segment on ESPN of the NFL Wild Card game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans. “But you’re right, he’s the x-factor, not just his ability to make throws, make decisions against a very complex Alabama defense. But he’s going to have to use his legs to be able to open up opportunities like that to Chris Olave down field. Where will he be (health wise), we’ll keep a very close eye on that early in this game.”
On the Alabama side, Herbstreit described Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith as “maybe the most humble superstar I’ve ever encountered, and is one of the hardest-working players on his team.”
“For Ohio State, it’s where do you start, do you load up to stop Najee Harris,” Herbstreit said. “Do you worry about the explosive pass game. It’ll be up to Mac Jones of Alabama to make quick decisions to put Alabama in a place where they can put those big points on the board.”