There are certain things I know to be true. When I come home to my house in the middle of the summer and it’s freezing cold, I know my youngest daughter is home. If I turn on CNN to watch the news, the word “Trump” will either be written or spoken within 2 seconds. And when I click on the TV to watch the final game of the college football season, either Clemson or Alabama is going to be hoisting the trophy at the end of it.
For the past four years, these two behemoths of college football have ping-ponged the trophy back and forth. The Tide rolled in 2015 and 2017 and the Tigers clawed their way to victories in 2016 and 2018. So what about this year? Is there any way someone other than CleBama could be standing on the podium when the confetti flies?
At first glance it sure as hell doesn’t look like it. Any poll worth its salt has Clemson number 1 and Alabama number 2 and no one else even close. It makes sense, as both have their big-time QBs back. Bama’s Tua Tagovailoa is a projected top-two pick in the 2020 draft, while Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence may be the top-rated quarterback prospect of all time.
On top of their talent under center, both teams are stocked with superstars all over the field. Alabama is projected to have ten players taken in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft, including three in the top-6. Clemson has the best running back in the nation in Travis Etienne.
So what are the things that could derail CleBama from lifting the title this year?
Tua has had a whole string of injuries and was sitting on the sidelines when Alabama rallied with Jalen Hurts in the 2018 SEC Championship Game. Without Hurts in reserve this year, if either team’s QB goes down, their win probability nosedives.
The 2002 Miami Hurricanes may have been the most talented team in the history of college football, but they didn’t win a national title. Why? One horrible pass interference call in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl robbed them of back-to-back undefeated national championship seasons. Lady Bad Luck has not kissed CleBama the last few years, but maybe she’ll strike this year.
#3 is dangerous. They have an NFL-ready QB by the name of Jake Fromm, and he’s twice had the Bulldogs in position to roll the tide but came up just short. Maybe the 3rd time’s the charm. They also have a massive offensive line that could dominate Clemson’s young pups upfront and keep Trevor and the boys off the field. It’s not barking mad to think the Dawgs could win it all.
First Dylan went electric, and now LSU is winging the ball all over the field with Joe Burrow. The defense has always been there to challenge CleBama, but they’ve never been able to put enough points on the board. Could the Tiger change its stripes this year and see the Bayou Bengals lift the crown? Maybe.
Lincoln Riley is college football’s QB whisperer, and with former Alabama signal-caller Hurts as his newest protégée, the Sooners might be able to outscore CleBama in a shootout.
The Big Ten looks weak, and Justin Fields is one hell of a quarterback. There’s experience all around and a monster by the name of Chase Young anchoring the D line.
Beat Ohio State and then we can talk.
The Aggies play both of Alabama and Clemson, and Jimbo always has a little something up his sleeve. He almost got Clemson last year, and has ‘Bama at Kyle Field in front 1.7 million screaming Aggie fans (maybe not 1.7 million, but it will feel that way). If someone like A&M can ding one of the big guys early, it might keep them out of the playoffs and open the door for another contender.