Nick Saban Ryan Day
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Nick Saban vs Ryan Day

The saying goes, “the war is won well before it starts.” This remains true in the Alabama vs. Ohio State game this evening. We will first assess the two field generals and head coaches Nick Saban and Ryan Day.

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Nick Saban is a 6x National Champion, who coached 3 Heisman trophy winners, multiple National Coach of the Year, amongst many other accolades.

If the 2010s were Saban’s decade, the 2020s could very well be Ryan Day’s decade. Both coaches have massive resources to pull from including rich traditions, strong alumni, and elite level recruiting brands. With Saban at 69 years old. This game could very well be a passing of the torch.

Ryan Day is the up-and-coming handpicked successor to Urban Meyer at Ohio State. He is incredibly well-prepared and a magnificent field general. He’s never lost a conference game and has one career loss. Ohio State and Urban Meyer knew what they were getting with Day and boy were they right.

On the field:

Based on accolades and past success the decision is clearly for Saban. But what have you done for me of late? Both teams are undefeated with NFL and All-American talent on both sides of the ball, immense resources, and historic traditions. 

Both teams lack true battle tests where coaching mattered more than the elite talent both teams possess. Notre Dame and Texas A&M provided Alabama’s strongest tests, but Bama handled both with ease. Ohio State had a few battles with Indiana and Northwestern, but few expected any other outcome outside of Ohio State prevailing. Clemson provided the strongest assessment as one of the teams most widely respected and who both programs have played recently.

Ryan Day was at his best in his head-to-head battle with Clemson Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables, predicting Clemson’s every move. Coach Day picked up a tendency for Venables to wait too long to get a playcall in and exploited. On one Trey Sermon touchdown, Clemson’s defense is sideline watching Venables wait to call a play and Ohio State has the ball snapped and halfway into the endzone before Clemson can react. Day’s offense scorched Clemson throughout the game often throwing deep past Clemson’s talented secondary. 

Nick Saban is no sleeping giant. He is very much awake, alive, and better than ever. He will be able to make sound decisions quickly and the Venables fiasco won’t happen to him. Ohio State gives up 261 passing yards per game according to ESPN stats good enough for the bottom 100 in all of college football. Have to give the nod to the coach with a Heisman trophy winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith, and first round draft picks at the other receiver spot with Jaylan Waddle and quarterback with Mac Jones.

Don’t forget Nick Saban is the position coach for the Alabama defensive backs and not under his watch will those Ohio State receivers run wild like they did with Clemson. He will utilize his NFL level corners to neutralize Ohio State’s wide receivers and keep the game controlled. In this scenario, Alabama’s stronger offense will be able to outscore Ohio State.  

Edge goes to Saban. Coaching decisions will happen on the fly throughout the game and unforeseen chess moves will be played. Nick Saban’s wealth of knowledge from many more CFPs and BCS appearances, prepare him better for success and the chaos that can occur during the game.  

Prediction: Alabama 40-24.