It's Monday and you know what that means... it's time to make some title game picks!
That's right we did gambling picks all season long, and with one game left, you sure as hell know we aren't stopping now. Not with so much on the line for everyone: Nick Saban trying to pass Bear Bryant for total national championships, Ohio State trying to shove the media losers in a locker one final time for trying to cancel their season, and me, who is trying to close out the gambling picks in style.
For the final time this season, the picks are presented by MyBookie - if you're gambling on tonight's game, go ahead and use MyBookie and if you use the promo code "TORRES" all first time bettors double your first deposit. So, you want to bet Bama $50 on Bama to cover the 8.5 points, MyBookie will give you $100 to play with. It's a great deal heading into tonight's game.
Now, let's get to the pick:
No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 1 Alabama: Monday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Point Spread: Alabama (-8.5)
First off, as I said on today's Aaron Torres Podcast, this is - quite literally - one of the toughest games to handicap since I started doing gambling articles years ago. Not because it's some insane matchup with crazy complicated X's and O's, but because of something much simpler: Covid and injuries.
Even hours before kickoff, here is what we still don't know about these two teams:
Does Ohio State have actual Covid issues? Last week there were very brief reports that the game could be cancelled because Ohio State wouldn't have enough players, and while the game will be played, no one is exactly sure just how many guys could be, or will be, missing for the Buckeyes.
What is the status of Justin Fields? He's clearly playing and at this point in the season, no one is 100 percent. At the same time, he wasn't even close to 100 percent at the end of the Clemson game, and can the Buckeyes really win this game with Fields at 50, 60 or 70 percent?
What is the status of Jaylen Waddle. Adding a potential Top 10 pick to the lineup a few hours before kickoff does feel like it could be an X-factor.
So those are the big questions, and admittedly it's hard to know the answer of any of them. However, it's also possible that we got a sign this morning, as both Tyreke Smith and Tommy Togiai - two players who many believed could miss this game - sent out tweets that seemed to indicate that they just might be playing.
Maybe those tweets mean nothing. I also don't know that I'd personally tweet "LFG" heading into the biggest game of my life if I weren't playing.
That's just me though.
But assuming we're getting something close to a full Ohio State team, I do have a question for you: Doesn't this feel like the Clemson game all over again?
What I mean by that is, I never understood why Clemson got so much disrespect heading into the Clemson game. Not just from Dabo Swinney, but the media as a whole. Like people realize this is Ohio State, right? Not the Sister's of the Poor. They have real NFL talent and a game-changer at quarterback
And it kind of feels like the same coming into today. I'm not saying that no analysts have picked the Buckeyes, but I haven't seen all that many.
Well with that said, I'm one of them. I believe, at the very least, the Buckeyes will keep things way closer than the 8.5 points. And I believe they can win outright.
First off, we have to remember, that while they weren't great in the regular season, Ohio State also basically wasn't healthy all season. They were essentially missing their entire offensive line for the game against Michigan State, their best wide receiver and second best running back didn't play in the Big Ten title game, and Ryan Day was in and out of the facility with Covid for basically three weeks straight. Add in that - not sure if you remember - but that their season was almost cancelled, and it's safe to say that no one has gone through more adversity this year than the Buckeyes.
But even stylistically I like the Buckeyes as well.
First off, while Alabama's offensive line was great against Notre Dame, they are missing their lynchpin, center Landon Dickerson who is out for the year. This Ohio State defensive line will be the best one they've seen since the Georgia game, and if the Buckeyes can get even a modicum of pressure on Mac Jones, that takes pressure off their weak link, which is their secondary. You're not going to slow down this Bama offense, but you've got to hope to contain them.
And finally, there is Bama itself.
Look, this is not a knock on Bama. I think you can legitimately argue that they put together one of the greatest regular seasons in the history of the sport. Going 10-0 in an SEC regular season, with all their wins coming by 17+ points is one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of the sport. Following it up with wins over Florida and Notre Dame are even better.
However, if you go back to that Florida game, one important thing happened that I don't see anyone talking about coming into this game: The Gators were able to move the ball through the air. Keep in mind that Florida was the best passing offense Alabama saw all season, and they put up over 400 yards passing, and had two wide receivers (Kadarius Toney and Kyle Pitts) each go for over 100 receiving yards.
Again, that's not a criticism of Alabama, since everyone struggled to stop Florida's offense all season. But now, that same Crimson Tide squad will face an Ohio State team with just as good of a passing game, and better run game and defense?
That'd be concerning to me.
In the end, I've got Ohio State winning this game 38-35, therefore my official picks are Ohio State (+8.5) as well as the Ohio State money line (+210). I'd add that the OVER of 75 feels a little rich for my blood.
Still, come Monday night, the Ohio State Buckeyes will be your 2021 national champions.
The Pick: Ohio State (+8.5) and Ohio State money line (+210)