I am not as adverse to college football as to the NFL. While the NFL has become a predictable mess of “follow the leader” college is almost 40 worthless bowl games between teams that have almost nothing in common. College football is wearing blue and gold because you spent half a semester skipping classes at Pitt 25 years ago. College football is selling out a 100,000+ seat stadium for a game between two barely .500 teams in the middle of a December snow storm simply because it is rivalry week.
Sure, there are just as many concussions as in the NFL, the players aren’t compensated, and 90+% of them won’t see the money that the NFL promises, but let’s not talk too much about that. Instead, let’s revel for one last game, the national championship which features two schools that Google Maps tells me are less than 300 miles apart. That’s a bit like the World Series between two teams in the USA. Okay, enough snark.
Alabama is in the unfamiliar position of coming into this game as the lower ranked team. I doubt that necessarily makes them the underdog though. Sure, their road to this game was not as Alabama like as previous seasons. They only lost one game, their last one against Auburn. that was enough to keep them out of the SEC Championship and my friend wrongly hoped, the CFP. I played along with his silly delusion. Ultimately, I knew the voters would never keep Alabama out if they could help it.
And, sure enough, there they were at #4. This time it was my turn to suffer silly delusions. I thought that the injuries and inconsistencies might finally catch up to them and Clemson would roll the Tide. I forgot about the fact that Nick Saban had a month to prepare for this game. I wrote that the NFL is boring and college offers some entertainment. That’s only during the regular and toilet bowl seasons. Once you get to the playoffs, Bama is New England and every one else is fighting for runner up.
What Does Alabama Bring to the Game?
So, of course, the Tide were the ones who rolled. They dominated Clemson in a way that only a Nick Saban led team can. Their defense smothered Clemson’s potentially dangerous offense and they did just enough themselves on offense not to sabotage the clear victory. Alabama is in the title game for the 3rd straight time and 6th overall. The BCS championship game has only been in existence for 11 years. Ugh.
While last year’s team offered 8 All Americans, only 3 Crimson Tide players were named this year. Even so, they found a way to scrape together a season in which they only lost one game, put together one of the most unpredictable blowouts of the semifinal round in recent history, and they’ve only lost 2 out of their last 40 games or something like that. Alabama is a machine. It’s just that this year they needed a bit more from the oil can.
Alabama and Clemson have become such staples in the National Championship picture that I wrote Clemson up there and had to delete it to write Georgia. I have a Facebook friend that I met in World of Warcraft many years ago who is a Georgia alum. Unlike me, who barely remembers my time at UMass, that seems like a big deal to him. He’s always posting about the games, including pictures of his family attending and this year was no different. Since my childhood team of Pitt seems content to be an academic school with a mid-major mindset regarding athletics, it has been fun to live vicariously through him.
Georgia’s path to the big game seems to have gone more smoothly than Alabama’s. Admittedly, I hate watch Alabama weekly and only get my UGA news from that friend. Sure, I could do research, but I’ll leave that to the “experts”. Instead, I will stick with my gut feeling. Ah, hell, now I feel guilty. I looked up their schedule. It definitely looked like an easier road for Georgia.
What Does Georgia Bring to the Game?
Like Alabama, Georgia only lost one game against Auburn. Unlike Alabama, they got a chance for revenge in the SEC Championship. Like Alabama, I thought that Georgia would get beaten handily by Oklahoma. I got to look like a genius for about a half. Then, some crazy stuff happened, followed by some crazier stuff, and culminating in an insane comeback win for the Dawgs.
Georgia had two players named to the AP All American team. I only know the names of the running backs and that’s just because I learned them while glancing at the ESPN GameCenter every few minutes in their game against Oklahoma. In my “research” of glancing at their schedule for a minute or two, I saw a lot of high point spreads for many of the games. They might be playing the scrappy underdog to Alabama’s juggernaut. But, they are no slouch of a team.
I lamented last year that it seemed like a year for evil to win. After heartwarming stories in the NHL, NBA, and MLB, there was the election and later the Patriots (they were still a month away, but virtually inevitable). I figured that Alabama would just ride that wave to a repeat win. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Clemson gave us a new hope.
Continuing with the obvious metaphor, that makes this the year that The Empire Strikes Back and an Alabama win. Honestly, though, independent of last week’s results, I might have been persuaded to pick Georgia and prolong the Alabama miser one more year. However, after “watching” last week’s games, I just think that even in this down year, Alabama is still the team to beat. Georgia doesn’t look like the team to be able to do it. In addition, similar to Bill Belichick, no former Nick Saban assistant has returned to beat “the man”.