Who Won the 2021 College Football National Championship?

The 2021 College Football National Championship put the finishing touch to a dominant season for the eventual winner, but who lifted the trophy?

Depending on who you listen to, the winner of the 2021 College Football National Championship was either the greatest team to ever do it, or the title will forever have an asterisk against it. Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, remarkably, a memorable and historic football season played out, but which team emerged from the chaos and pandemonium to be named national champions?

College Football National Championship 2021 Winner

After falling at the semifinal stage the previous season, the Alabama Crimson Tide bounced back in historic style by winning the 2021 College Football National Championship. They steamrolled the SEC and took the fight out of the Irish in the Rose Bowl, before Nick Saban’s team brutalized the Ohio State Buckeyes 52-24 in the title game in front of a pandemic-limited 14,926 fans inside Hard Rock Stadium.

After LSU’s success in 2020, Alabama became just the second team to win a national title as the No. 1 ranked team during the four-team playoff era. The 2021 College Football National Championship marked the Crimson Tide’s 18th national title, third of the CFP era, and their unbeaten season was their 25th perfect campaign in program history. Even by Alabama’s incredibly high standards, it was a season of unprecedented success.

Alabama’s Historic Season Ends as the Winner of the 2021 College Football National Championship

Under coach Saban, Alabama has become synonymous with college football success. Anything short of a national title for the Tuscaloosa team is deemed disastrous. Yet, there was something special about the 2021 College Football National Championship-winning Crimson Tide team, even by those sensational standards and lofty expectations.

Perhaps it was the circumstances surrounding the 2020 CFB season.

While some will forever maintain that the 2021 College Football National Championship is tainted by the extenuating circumstances of a global pandemic — removing any faint hope of a level playing field — a counterargument can be made that the obstacles the Alabama team had to overcome to win their 18th national title were unlike any faced by any team in the history of the sport.

The Crimson Tide have often been criticized for having “cupcake clashes” on their schedule, manipulating their out-of-conference campaign to give them easy wins on a regular basis. The eventual national champions had to play an SEC-only schedule that saw them pitted against ranked Texas A&M, Georgia, and Auburn teams in regular-season play. They also hit the road for matchups with Ole Miss, Tennessee, and LSU.

While battling that schedule, the rigors of testing and isolation that included their head coach missing the Auburn game — and the accompanying uncertainty of the season — Alabama swept aside all-comers in dominant style. They scored over 30 points in every single game, averaging 48.5 points per game. The only team to come within two touchdowns of the eventual national champions was Florida in the SEC Championship Game.

Perhaps it was the way that the 2020 Alabama team was so sensationally dominant despite losing a ludicrous amount of talent to the 2020 NFL Draft. The Crimson Tide had to replace their starting quarterback (Tua Tagovailoa), two incredible wide receiving talents (Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III), in addition to high-level starters on both sides of the ball. Some teams would be crippled by that departure of talent, but not Alabama.

The 2021 College Football National Championship winner will be remembered as special because of the talent that helped delivered the 18th title to Tuscaloosa. Mac Jones replaced Tagovailoa and put together — under the play-calling of Steve Sarkisian — one of the most memorable campaigns a college football QB has ever conjured up.

The Davey O’Brien Award and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner set fire to the program and CFB record books with his sensational performances. Jones ended the season with 4,500 passing yards, completing 77.4% of his passes (an NCAA single-season record) while throwing 41 touchdown passes. His 203.1 passer efficiency rating also set an NCAA record.

Jones wasn’t the only award winner on the 2021 College Football National Championship Crimson Tide team. Running back Najee Harris took home the Doak Walker Award as the top rusher in college football after tallying 1,466 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns. The offensive line protecting for Jones and blocking for Harris won the Joe Moore Award, while standout linemen Alex Leatherwood and Landon Dickerson also won individual awards.

Yet, it was WR DeVonta Smith who emerged as a genuine game-changer for the Crimson Tide. Taking over as the go-to target for Jones following a serious injury to Jaylen Waddle, Smith snagged 23 touchdowns and 1,856 receiving yards on his way to becoming the first Alabama wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy. The Crimson Tide pass catcher was also the first WR to win the award since Desmond Howard in 1991.

The Jones-Smith connection dominated the 2021 College Football National Championship Game.

Harris opened the scoring for Alabama, but a Master Teague touchdown leveled the score at 7-7 at the end of the first quarter. Another Teague touchdown canceled out Smith’s first as the two teams duked it out early in the second quarter. However, when Ohio State could only match a second Harris touchdown — this time a reception from Jones — with a field goal, Smith took over the game.

The Heisman-winning wide receiver put scoring finishes to a five-play, 75-yard drive, and a three-play, 60-yard drive, to give Alabama an unassailable 35-17 lead at the half. Jones ended the 2021 College Football National Championship Game with 464 yards and five touchdowns, with Smith accounting for 215 yards and three touchdowns.

It was a dominant display worthy of a dominant season, possibly one of the most impressive campaigns in CFB history by the 2021 College Football National Championship-winning Alabama team.