There was no Heisman Trophy jinx for Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith Monday night. College football's top playmaker tore up Ohio State's pass defense in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship, breaking playoff and SEC records before the Crimson Tide even got to halftime of what would eventually be a 52-24 win.
In the first 30 minutes of the game, Smith racked up 12 receptions on 14 targets for 215 yards and three touchdowns. Those 12 catches were the most in the history of the CFP National Championship.
"The young guys just putting in the work, every week, knowing that if someone went down they would have to come in and do something big," Smith said after he was presented the game's Offensive MVP trophy. "I believed in them from the jump and that's what we do. That's why you come to Bama."
But Smith's record night was cut short when he dislocated a finger on his right hand early in the third quarter. After being looked at by team trainers in the sideline medical tent, Smith was taken to the locker room with a towel over his right hand.
"Well, he really dislocated his finger," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "I told Smitty after the game, I said, You're the only player that I know that missed a whole half because of your finger. It was dislocated and they couldn't get it back in. If they'd have got it back in, he would have been fine. He actually wanted to play, we just didn't allow him to."
Speaking of Chase, Smith also broke the SEC's single-season receiving yards record previously held by the LSU wideout. With his 200-yard first-half performance, Smith finished with 1,856 yards on the year, topping Chase's record of 1,780 yards set a year ago, and an SEC single-season record of 23 touchdowns. Smith also became the SEC's all-time leading receiver in the game with 3,965 career yards.
Ohio State tried everything to cover Smith, but nothing worked. He showed breakaway speed on both catch-and-run routes ...
... as well as vertical breakaway ability. His third touchdown of the first half came on a mismatch against Ohio State linebacker Tuf Borland. It went about as poorly for the Buckeyes as you would imagine.
Though Smith wasn't able to top his single-game best for receiving yards (274) or Chase's championship record of 221 receiving yards, Alabama still finished with 464 yards passing with six other players catching at least a pass.
"He's a great competitor. I heard somebody say he set some kind of record in the first half of the game," Saban said. "Heaven knows what he would have done if he played the whole game. But you're talking about the ultimate warrior, ultimate competitor. I'm so happy for him that he was recognized as the best player in college football because I don't think anybody's done more for their team than he has for our team."
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