In the days leading up to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, concerns grew within the Ohio State Buckeyes might push for a postponement. The program has experienced multiple positive tests for COVID-19, and while the identities of those individuals remain unknown, it cast a pall over the contest.
However, while Ohio State doesn’t expect to him its full roster available, no report has surfaced to suggest the game will move to account for the program’s issues. Whether the Buckeyes suit up all their star players or not has become a central question — along with the potential return of Alabama Crimson Tide star Jaylen Waddle — for Monday’s title game.
With those caveats out of the way, who are the key players for both teams on both sides of the ball?
Ohio State Buckeyes
Justin Fields played perhaps the best game of his career against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl. Despite taking a huge hit, he followed through and eliminated plenty of questions about his NFL Draft status. Fields proved exception again this season, setting a career mark in completion percentage (73.4) despite playing with an offensive line and receiving corps in flux due to the pandemic. Running back Trey Sermon, a transfer from Oklahoma, filled in admirably for the departing J.K. Dobbins this season. Sermon averages 7.5 yards per carry while leading the Buckeyes with 963 scrimmage yards, including 254 in the Sugar Bowl.
The top defender for the Buckeyes this season, cornerback Shaun Wade earned All-American honors and the Woodson-Tatum award, the Big Ten’s honor for the conference’s best defensive back. However, Wade disappointed in last week’s Sugar Bowl, allowing 10 receptions on 12 targets for 143 yards and two scores, according to Pro Football Focus. Wade couldn’t ask for a better chance at redemption, as he will cover Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith for a large portion of Monday’s title game.