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College Football Playoff: What Alabama and Ohio State navigated to reach the title game

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Fields' surprising landing spot in McShay's first mock draft (1:21)

Todd McShay breaks down why he has Justin Fields being selected by the Patriots with the No. 15 pick in the 2021 NFL draft. (1:21)

In a season defined by the unprecedented, two teams are still on course to reach its final night. Alabama and Ohio State will play for the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida (Monday, 8 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App), but both -- along with the sport itself -- had to endure a seemingly endless wave of obstacles and uncertainty to get there.

From a fight just to play this season to ongoing COVID-19 issues -- with some very bright moments along the way -- here's the converging path the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide took to have a shot at glory.


'We want to play for the players'

Ohio State: Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day rarely sounds off on social media, but with the Big Ten season on the brink of cancellation, he made his displeasure known. After Big Ten team physicians and others had expressed concerns about myocarditis and other potential effects for those diagnosed with COVID-19, the league's presidents and chancellors met Aug. 9 with commissioner Kevin Warren. A large majority of the league's leaders favored postponing the fall season.