By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – As Alabama quarterback Blake Sims rolled to his right, he saw tight end O.J. Howard slip behind his defender and into the end zone.
Sims unloaded of a pass meant to restore the Crimson Tide’s lead in the fourth quarter, but there wasn’t enough air under the ball.
Ohio State safety Vonn Bell made a leaping interception just in front of the goal line to end the threat, and the Crimson Tide couldn’t recover in a 42-35 loss to the Buckeyes in a College Football Playoff semifinal in the Sugar Bowl on Thursday night.
Coach Nick Saban by no means had his most dominant team this season. Alabama survived several close calls to stay in contention for a fourth national title since 2009.
Now the Southeastern Conference will be without a team in the national championship game for the first time since 2005.