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Three Tide Defenders to Watch vs Ohio State

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Three Alabama defenders to watch versus Ohio State.

The talk of college football has been the Alabama offense and for good reason; five players on that Crimson Tide unit alone were named first-team All-Americans, Heisman Trophy-winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith included. That said, talented Alabama's defense will need a strong showing on Monday night against an Ohio State attack that ranks in the top five nationally in total offense.

Below are three Crimson Tide defenders to watch and why their performances will be especially important in the national championship game;

Christian Barmore, DT -- Barmore, as a 3-4 defensive lineman, ranks in the national top 20 with seven sacks, the most for any non 4-3 end or linebaker in the country. His ability to pressure the passer from a position that doesn't traditionally produce such results can be an absolute game changer. If Barmore can find his way into the offensive backfield regularly against Ohio State, it will give coordinator Pete Golding the extra luxury of schematic options in terms of linebacker usage. Simply put, Barmore is a disrupter. He has five sacks in his last five games. With the Buckeyes ranking 101st nationally in sacks per game allowed, there may be more opportunities for Barmore for more of the same. Beyond pressuring Justin Fields, Barmore needs to demand attention and wreck havoc at the line of scrimmage to prevent Trey Sermon from seamlessly getting to the second level in the ground game.

Patrick Surtain II, CB -- The SEC co-leader in pass deflections with eleven is a prototypical shut down cornerback at 6'2'', 200 pounds. A unanimous All-American, Surtain has been the best cover corner in the country this season. His matchups for Monday night, facing Ohio State's Chris Olave, the Big Ten's leader in receiving, and Garrett Wilson, will be critical ones. Surtain thrives off of physical play, using his size and length to disrupt timing at the line of scrimmage and downfield. If he can limit the production of Olave and Wilson, it will greatly disrupt the Buckeyes' passing game. A total of 1,333 of Justin Fields' 1,906 passing yards have gone to those two playmakers. Surtain has the potential to take away the entire side of a field; if he is at his best in the final, it will put plenty of extra pressure on Fields.

Dylan Moses, LB -- Alabama's leading tackler in 2018 and 2020, the veteran Moses will play a leading role in the Crimson Tide's rush defense against Ohio State. Athletic and instinctive, Moses will essentially be Trey Sermon's shadow. Moses' rapid ability to read and react off the ball will be a leading tone-setter for how Alabama hopes to slow down a running back with an astonishing 524 yards in his last two games. A strong tackler both in traffic and in the open field, it will be imperative that Moses, and his friends, remain fundamentally sound against a rushing attack like this. Expect Moses to have a busy and productive night, possibly reaching double figures in total tackles.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports