Quarterback Cardale Jones was quick to share the accolades with his Ohio State teammates after Thursday's Sugar Bowl win over Alabama.
NEW ORLEANS - The affable Cardale Jones, now 2-0 as the starting quarterback for Ohio State in two of the more impressive wins in program history, was asked what it felt like to defeat Alabama on Thursday in the Sugar Bowl.
"Sore," Jones said, smiling. "It feels pretty good. I am pretty sure we shocked the country once again with this win because we were underdogs. We didn't feed into that too much, though. We just prepared like no other game."
The Buckeyes ousted the Crimson Tide, the No. 1 seed in the first College Football Playoff, 42-35 to advance to the national title game on Jan. 12 against Oregon in Arlington, Texas. But when asked what it was like for his Cinderella story to continue, Jones cut the questioner short.
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"This is not my story, this is our team," Jones said. "I haven't just gone through a lot, my teammates have, dealing with ails, a guy dying on our team, guys getting kicked off our team - it's been an emotional season for us all."
As for the play he remembered most from Thursday, he said it wasn't his lone touchdown pass, a 47-yarder to Devin Smith. And it wasn't one of his key runs, a relatively strong rushing night blunted by the yardage loss of three sacks.
"Definitely, it was Ezekiel closing the deal with an 85-yard run," Jones said, referring to running back Ezekiel Elliott's run off the left side that left Alabama trailing 42-28 late in the fourth quarter.
Safety Tyvis Powell intercepted Alabama quarterback Blake Sims' pass to the end zone on the final play. Then, Powell surprisingly tried to stage a return instead of taking a knee that would have ended the game immediately.
"I did contradict myself, because I was going to do that," Powell said. "But I said, 'Why not try to score? Why not?' I tried to take it to the crib."
He only made it 29 yards before being tackled. But he kept the ball, an Alabama Nike model much like the ball he intercepted to save a win at Michigan in 2013 when the Wolverines attempted a two-point conversion and failed, sealing the Buckeyes' 42-41 win. The new ball will go next to that one at his parents' home in Bedford, Ohio.
"Yes, it does," Powell said. "These are two game-saving balls."
MVP for all
Redshirt freshman linebacker Darron Lee was named the Sugar Bowl defensive MVP. But even after his seven tackles - including two sacks and another tackle for loss of Sims on a critical third-down play - Lee said singling him out didn't do the defense justice.
"The whole defense was the MVP," said Lee, from New Albany. "I'm not taking that award individually. I know everybody will probably write about it, but I share this award with the entire defense. We played our hearts out. All the guys that stepped out there, we rotated, we played our hearts out and we played a great game."
Ohio State has the longest active winning streak in major college football, stretching it to 12, and replacing Florida State, which had won 29 straight before being routed by Oregon on Thursday in the Rose Bowl. … Ohio State gained its first victory over Alabama.