A college football season unlike any other somehow still ended in the most predictable way on Monday in Miami.
For the sixth time in the last 12 years, Alabama and Nick Saban are the national champions. The Crimson Tide dominated Ohio State throughout the College Football Playoff title game, turning in an incredible offensive performance en route to a 52-24 win.
Here are five takeaways from Monday's title game.
It's not outrageous to say DeVonta Smith is in the conversation for the most productive collegiate receiver of all time. After becoming the first wideout since 1991 to win the Heisman, Smith wasted no time confirming he's the best player in the country this season.
The Alabama senior absolutely torched the Buckeyes' defense, putting up one of the most outrageous first-half stat lines in recent memory. Smith caught a record 12 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns in the opening two quarters, helping the Crimson Tide take a 35-17 lead to the locker room.
Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian's final game with the Crimson Tide was a masterpiece, as he found various ways to get Smith into space throughout the first half. One particular moment that stood out was when the receiver's route found him one-on-one with linebacker Tuf Borland.
Unfortunately, Smith's epic first half would end up serving as his final stat line for the night, as the Louisiana native injured his hand on the first drive of the third quarter and was forced to miss the remainder of the contest.
Despite the injury, Smith bookends his incredible collegiate career with two massive performances in two national title victories.
He was a Heisman finalist and won the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's best quarterback, and yet it still somehow feels like Mac Jones is an underrated player. The Alabama junior has thrived since taking over from Tua Tagovailoa as the starter and turned in one final masterpiece on Monday.
Though it certainly helps to have other-worldly athletes like Smith catching your passes, Jones was brilliant with his reads all night to exploit an overmatched Ohio State defense. He finished with an outrageous 464 yards passing and five touchdowns against zero interceptions. Once Smith exited due to injury, Jones simply spread the ball around to a host of other talented players, including Slade Bolden on his first career touchdown.
Jones went to Alabama alongside Tagovailoa as simply the "other" quarterback in the 2017 recruiting class, but he leaves as one of the best passers in the history of the storied program.
If the Buckeyes were going to pull off the upset, Trey Sermon needed to produce the way he had leading up to the contest. Unfortunately, for Ohio State, the star running back suffered a shoulder injury on the first drive of the game and didn't return. Master Teague stepped up and found the end zone shortly after Sermon's injury, but the star runner's absence eventually took its toll on the Buckeyes' offense.
Sermon was averaging 212 yards per game on the ground over his last three contests, and Ohio State managed just 82 rushing yards outside of quarterback Justin Fields' 67. Sermon's injury allowed the Crimson Tide to key on Ohio State's passing attack and keep its offense in neutral for almost the entirety of the contest.
It's admirable that Fields even played Monday after the shot he took to his ribs versus Clemson, but the Ohio State star appeared limited throughout the game. Fields wasn't the usual threat in the run game that we've grown accustomed to, and the aggressive Alabama secondary limited receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Fields finished the night 17 of 33 for 194 yards in what's likely his final collegiate contest before heading to the NFL draft.
Though he wasn't operating at full capacity, the Crimson Tide's defense still needs to be commended for its incredible effort throughout the contest. The two best offenses on Alabama's schedule this year - Ole Miss and Florida - torched the Tide for 48 and 46 points, respectively. Fields was coming off a 385-yard, six-touchdown performance against Clemson, and this one had all the makings of a potential shootout, but the Crimson Tide absolutely stepped up in a performance worthy of a champion.
It might be hard to believe considering what we've witnessed in recent years, but there was a time when Saban's teams relied on a shutdown defense and time-consuming run game to win championships. In his first four national championship wins (one with LSU and three with Alabama), Saban's teams averaged 177 passing yards. In his three titles since, the program has passed for an average of 328 yards.
As college football has become a wide-open scoring contest, Saban, too, has evolved from a defensive master to overseeing the top offense in the sport. In the last four years, players like Jones, Smith, Tagovailoa, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, and Jaylen Waddle have come through Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide's offense has averaged more than 45 points per game in each of the last three years and topped the 30-point mark in 26 straight contests.
This seventh national title now has Saban standing alone at the top of the sport. His ability to adapt and win in various ways is arguably the main reason why he's the greatest collegiate coach ever.