Buckeye Leaves: Alabama

Ohio State is headed to Dallas, and it took plenty of standout efforts to get them there. But who stood above the rest? The BuckeyeSports.com crew debates in this edition of Buckeye Leaves.

Ohio State made history by qualifying for the first-ever College Football Playoff tonight with a 42-35 win vs. Alabama, producing a number of standout performers. Who were our players of the game, though? BSB gives out our Buckeye Leaves.

Ryan Ginn: My Buckeye Leaf goes to Ezekiel Elliott, who carried the Buckeyes all the way to Dallas thanks to a 230-yard, two-touchdown performance. No running back this season had rushed for 100 yards in a game against the Tide, and all he did was more than double that total. His 85-yard run that ended up serving as the winning score will go down as one of the most memorable plays in Ohio State football history. Ohio State slayed Alabama by doing exactly what the Tide normally does to its opponents.

Marcus Hartman: I am going to have to go with Darron Lee. The redshirt freshman linebacker was all over the field making game-changing plays against one of the nation’s best offenses. Seven solo tackles are one thing, but three came in the backfield and two were sacks. He also rushed Alabama quarterback Blake Sims into an incompletion on an early third down and blew up a couple of bubble screens.

Jeff Svoboda: There are some deserving players on all sides of the ball -- I think Evan Spencer throwing for a TD, recovering an onside kick and making a seal block on Ezekiel Elliott's long TD run near the end is a hell of a day -- but I have to go to Darron Lee here. Lee's day included seven solo tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss on the stat sheet, but it seemed like when the Buckeyes needed a big play or a stop, Lee was the man to make it. He consistently pushed an Alabama offense that at times looked unstoppable back behind schedule or stopped drives on his own. A number of guys were utterly fantastic, but the way Lee changes games -- especially for a redshirt freshman -- consistently amazes me. To think OSU will have this guy for a while is hard to comprehend.

Blake Williams: Ezekiel Elliott is the guy to me. As is the case in any big win, there are plenty of leaves to go around, but the sophomore tailback was the Buckeyes' best and most consistent offensive weapon all night. His obscene 11.5 yards-per-carry average propelled him to the Sugar Bowl rushing record, and the Sugar Bowl has been around for a while. It appeared the only thing stopping Elliott was periodic times when the coaching staff stopped giving him the ball. All this against the No. 1 run defense in the country. What a night.

Who do you think should be so honored? Let us know in the Ask The Insiders forum.


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