There were many memorable plays during Ohio State's victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, but there were odd decisions, too. Most glaring was the Buckeyes throwing deep late in the game when they had a chance to make the Crimson Tide use up their timeouts.
NEW ORLEANS - Ohio State gained one of its greatest wins on Thursday, beating Alabama 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl to advance to the first College Football Playoff championship game against Oregon. The Buckeyes did it with some big plays, especially from running back Ezekiel Elliott and defensive end Steve Miller.
In a game like that, with so much on the line and two traditional powers going head to head, there were almost too many memorable plays to count.
But for Ohio State fans, there also were a few curious moments that left them scratching their heads, perhaps even wondering out loud, "What are they doing?" as the Buckeyes put themselves in several predicaments.
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Most glaring, Ohio State threw the ball on first down after Evan Spencer had leaped to secure an attempted onside kick by Alabama with 1:55 to play. Knowing the Tide had two timeouts left, the Buckeyes probably needed just one first down to run out the clock.
But with Alabama crowding the line on first down, the coaches opted to let Cardale Jones take a shot downfield to Spencer, but the pass fell incomplete to stop the clock.
Three plays and two Alabama timeouts later, the Buckeyes punted to give the Crimson Tide the ball with 1:33 to go. On the final play, Blake Sims threw to the end zone, where safety Tyvis Powell intercepted and finally clinched the win.
There were other curious moments. For example:
Freshman hybrid back Noah Brown ran a jet sweep wide on third-and-1 from the Ohio State 43-yard line midway through the third quarter. The Buckeyes were leading 27-21 and in the process of putting together a stout drive that began at their 5. Suddenly, it was stunted with Brown being tackled for a 4-yard loss.
The Buckeyes had started from the 5 because they had not sent anyone deep to field the previous punt from Alabama's JK Scott, whose attempt landed at about the Ohio State 22 and bounded to the 5, where it was downed. Scott averaged 55 yards a punt in the game.
On another punt, early in the second quarter, Ohio State returner Jalin Marshall made a fair catch at the Buckeyes 5. That was not exactly textbook. Later, he made another fair catch at the 9.
From Ohio State's 22, Jones tried to complete a wide screen pass to Michael Thomas, who had lined up left with two other receivers. But Jones didn't see Alabama' Cyrus Jones jumping the play. Cyrus Jones had a beeline on a defensive touchdown, if only he had caught the ball.
Those are a few of the things the Buckeyes got away with on a night that otherwise went their way.