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Alabama vs. Ohio State Betting Guide: How Special Teams Impact the CFP National Championship

Alabama vs. Ohio State Betting Guide: How Special Teams Impact the CFP National Championship article feature image

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Jaylen Waddle.

  • A college football season doesn't feel complete without an Alabama failure in the kicking game, but that might not be the case this year.
  • The Crimson Tide might also return Jaylen Waddle in the National Championship, which would be a huge boost in the return game.
  • Collin WIlson breaks down special teams for Alabama vs. Ohio State below.

From a penthouse looking down, a simple overall rank would favor Alabama over Ohio State in the special teams department for the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

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That’s a change from most other years the Crimson Tide have made a run to the title game, especially given Alabama’s near-infamous field-goal kicking issues.

A college football season does not seem complete without a breakdown in the Bama kicking department. The names are endless, including Leigh Tiffin, Jamie Christensen, Cade Foster and Adam Griffith.

Just a short three years ago, kicker Andy Pappanastos had a chance to seal the national championship against Georgia with a 36-yard attempt, but it ended up being his second miss of the game.


Enter Will Reichard, an in-state recruit from Hoover, who went 4-of-7 in limited play through the early part of the 2019 season. The sophomore went back to the drawing board in the offseason to produce a perfect season for Alabama. Reichard has hit all 13 field goals and 73 point-after attempts.

Alabama has hit three field goals over 40 yards this season, including a 52-yarder against Georgia.

Ohio State has a senior placekicker in Blake Haubeil. In his three-year kicking career, the senior has posted 28 field-goal makes on 35 attempts. Strangely enough, the Buffalo native has been great from 40-plus at 8-of-10, but he’s just 6-of-9 from 30-to-39 yards.

Both kickers have connected on their attempts outside of 50 yards, so distance is not an issue. There is, however, a history of shorter field goals being missed on the Ohio State side.

With a total in the mid-70s, field-goal kicking may not be in the equation for much of this game. For the expected amount of kickoff returns, average starting field position may favor Alabama in winning the hidden yards battle. Ohio State ranks 126th in kickoff return yards at 13.3 yards per attempt.

Adding to the low special teams rating for the Buckeyes is the punt department. There’s no expectation that the punters will break a sweat in Miami Gardens, but if they happen to, there’s a clear edge on the Alabama side.

The difference in punt return units is night and day, with Alabama ranking ninth in return average at 15.6 yards per attempt and Ohio State 72nd at 6.7 yards per attempts.

Smith put up 219 punt return yards this season, half the total of Alabama’s best punt return season from Jaylen Waddle in 2019.

This is an area that Alabama can change the game in with multiple options to score a touchdown. Meanwhile, Ohio State ranks 102nd on the season in net punt yards differential.

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