This You Gotta See: Ohio State-Alabama, Bears-Saints and Blackhawks’ opening night

To take down the No. 1 Tide, Buckeyes QB Justin Fields will have to be great — the same kind of great he dialed up against Clemson, whose defense he destroyed through the air with 385 yards and six touchdowns.

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CFP Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl - Clemson v Ohio State

Ohio State’s Justin Fields wants some more confetti.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields was asked during a late-week virtual press conference for an update on his ribs. That is, assuming he still has ribs after the monstrous hit he took in a national semifinal victory over Clemson.

“I’ll be good come Monday night,” he said.

You sure? Because that kind of a hit usually involves a crash-test dummy.

“I’ll be good by Monday night,” he repeated.

So there you have it. Fields will be good to go for the Buckeyes in the national-title game against Alabama.

But will he actually be, you know, good? He’ll have to be good to have a chance to take down the No. 1 Tide, who are 8-point favorites. No, check that. He’ll have to be great — the same kind of great he dialed up against Clemson, whose defense he destroyed through the air with 385 yards and six touchdowns.

It’s generally difficult to view mighty Ohio State as an underdog, but that’s definitely the situation here. Led by quarterback Mac Jones, running back Najee Harris and Heisman Trophy-winning receiver DeVonta Smith, the Tide has its best offense yet in the Nick Saban era.

But Ohio State’s is next-level dangerous, too, when the dynamic Fields is feeling it.

So, the big question: Can either defense come up with more than a couple of stops in this game? Watching the Buckeyes “D” hound and pound Clemson superstar Trevor Lawrence, I was reminded of Ohio State’s upset of Alabama as a two-touchdown underdog in the 2014 playoff. That team peaked late, hit the big, bad SEC bullies in the face repeatedly and proved it was the best.

Ohio State 34, Alabama 31. That’s the pick.

And here’s what’s happening:

SUN 10

Ravens at Titans (12:05 p.m., Ch. 7, ESPN)

Tennessee’s Derrick Henry rumbled for a 29-yard touchdown in overtime when these teams met in November. Free advice to the Ravens: Tackle the giant dude with the 2-by-4 of hair hanging out the back of his helmet.

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers

Drew Brees isn’t going to hit himself.

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Bears at Saints (3:40 p.m., Ch. 2, Nickelodeon)

The Bears haven’t been up against it like this since, well, when was the last time they played the Packers again? But seriously: See Drew Brees, hit Drew Brees. And if you can’t do that: Pray.

Browns at Steelers (7:15 p.m., NBC)

These teams are meeting for the second straight week, the kind of thing that really isn’t meant to happen in football because the guys involved have a way of wanting to kill each other. And we get to watch!

MON 11

Connecticut at DePaul (5 p.m., FS1)

Believe it or not, the Blue Demons — who’ve had most of their games bumped due to COVID-19 — already have played, and lost to, the Huskies this season. Time to get one back in the rematch.

CFP championship: Ohio State vs. Alabama (7 p.m., ESPN)

At the end of the strangest season ever, there’s nothing strange at all about seeing these two superpowers left standing. You’d think Nick Saban would be kind of bored by now.

TUE 12

Penn State v Michigan

Michigan’s Dickinson is a monster.

Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Wisconsin at Michigan (6 p.m., ESPN)

It’s a top-10 matchup and a great chance to watch 7-1 Wolverines freshman Hunter Dickinson. He’s like his coach, Juwan Howard, only way bigger and — dare we suggest it? — maybe better.

Celtics at Bulls (7 p.m., NBCSCH)

The Bulls don’t look so terrible anymore, do they? If they keep up the competitive play under Billy Donovan, they might really start to grow their cardboard-cutout fan base.

WED 13

Northwestern at Ohio State (6 p.m., BTN)

The Wildcats are coming off an absolute stomping by Illinois from which they might never recover. Or maybe they’re a bunch of 20-year-olds who forgot about it three seconds after it was over.

Blackhawks at Lightning (7 p.m., NBCSN)

Ready or not, the regular season begins tonight. And the Hawks’ No. 1 goalie is … ?

Illinois at Nebraska (8 p.m., BTN)

If the Illini can just figure out how to go all-out all the time, they’ll be unstoppable — said every coach ever, but in this case it’s really true.

THU 14

Heat at 76ers (6:30 p.m., TNT)

Some of us still aren’t sold on the Sixers as an Eastern Conference contender. Then again, a look at the stats sheet reveals that Ben Simmons is merely their fifth-leading scorer. That’s kind of scary.

FRI 15

Mavericks at Bucks (6:30 p.m., ESPN)

Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo could belly up to a folding table for a spirited game of backgammon, and we’d be riveted. This will be fun.

Bulls at Thunder (7 p.m., NBCSCH+)

Donovan’s new team beat his old team twice in the preseason, and you know what that means — not a dang thing.

Pelicans at Lakers (9 p.m., ESPN)

The NBA rules committee really should outlaw any scenario in which Zion Williamson and LeBron James aren’t guarding each other.

SAT 16

Ohio State at Illinois (11 a.m., Fox-32)

The Buckeyes have really had Illinois’ number, winning nine of the last 11 head-to-head. What do they think this is, football?

AFC, NFC divisional rounds (TBD)

If the world-beater Bears aren’t playing today, it can only mean they were assigned to take the field on Sunday. Either way, we should probably start planning that Super Bowl parade.

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