Despite being 9.5-point underdogs, the Ohio State Buckeyes rallied from 15 points down to stun the Alabama Crimson Tide, 42-35, in the Sugar Bowl on Thursday. After falling behind 21-6, the Buckeyes reeled off 28 straight points to take a 34-21 lead – a lead they never relinquished.
Just how sick was that game?
“It was a very sick game,” Ohio State defensive back Vonn Bell said on Ferrall on the Bench. “All these fans came out for each other’s schools and we just had to hold it down for Buckeye Nation. We knew we had a job at hand, and we just accepted the challenge.”
The Buckeyes were given virtually no chance to win this game – not by Vegas, not by coaches and not by members of the media. Ohio State, however, overcame two early turnovers and two botched red zone trips to beat the Tide, nabbing its first bowl win over an SEC team in its storied history. In fact, the Buckeyes dominated the action for much of the first three quarters, outgaining Alabama 457-150 midway through the third.
“We had a lot of doubters,” Bell said. “We were eager. We wanted to shock the world. We believed what the coaches said to us. We just balled out. It was a tough game. Hats off to the coaching staff and the whole city. Buckeye Nation came to support us.”
Bell had another great game for Ohio State, picking off Blake Sims at a pivotal moment in the fourth quarter. An unlucky bounce following an end-zone punt gave Alabama the ball inside the OSU 25-yard-line. The Tide went for it all on the first play, but Bell wasn’t fooled.
“It was very clutch,” Bell said. “I told the coaching staff I’m going to keep on making plays for you guys, and I really believed in it. I just saw the play, and I read it. I’ve seen it on film a million times. I just wanted to make a play for Buckeye Nation.”
Ohio State’s defense finished with three interceptions, picking off Alabama’s desperation heave in the end zone on the final play of the game.
Bell, who has a pick in three straight games, is a sophomore from Rossville, Georgia. He was heavily recruited by Nick Saban but signed with Ohio State.
“I just (saw) opportunity (at Ohio State), and opportunity got me this,” Bell said. “I’m just blessed to have this.”
Bell and the Buckeyes now have an opportunity to win their eighth national championship – and their first since 2002. Standing in their way is No. 2 Oregon, which dismantled reigning national champion Florida State, 59-20, in the Rose Bowl on Thursday. Heisman winner Marcus Mariota threw for 338 yards, ran for 62 and had three touchdowns (two pass, one rush) in the win over Florida State.
Nevertheless, Bell believes the Buckeyes have a shot when the two teams meet in Arlington on Jan. 12.
“We’re going to get back to the drawing board and go back to Columbus and we’re going to do what we do from day one,” Bell said. “And we’re going to enjoy it.”