Despite starting a third-string quarterback, No. 4 Ohio State rallied from an early 15-point deficit to upset No. 1 Alabama, 42-35, on Thursday night in New Orleans and advance to college football playoff championship.

After giving up two early Ohio State field goals, Alabama (12-2) dominated most of the first half, scoring touchdowns on three out of four drives in the late first and early second quarters to take a 21-6 lead. But Ohio State (13-1) quarterback Cardale Jones settled down and the Buckeyes responded with 28 unanswered points to take a lead they would never give back.

Making just his second career start, Jones threw for 243 yards and a touchdown and picked up several key first downs with his 43 rushing yards in the game. Ohio State also got a big boost from running back Ezekiel Elliott's career-high 230 yards. The sophomore has rushed for a combined 678 yards and seven touchdowns in his last four games.

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Ohio State's defense, which was coming into the game off of a 59-0 shutout of Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship, continued its hot play. The Buckeyes held Alabama’s potent running game to just 170 yards and forced three Crimson Tide turnovers, including a third quarter interception returned for a touchdown.

Ohio State will face No. 2 Oregon in the national title game, seeking the school’s eighth national championship and the third for coach Urban Meyer.