The college football season is down to one game. Alabama will play Clemson again in the national championship game. Alabama will again be favored but it would not surprise me at all if Clemson wins Monday night. Clemson is peaking at just the right time and there seems to be turmoil among Nick Saban’s staff. Saban decided he’d had enough of notorious scurve Lane Kiffin and sent his offensive coordinator packing to Kiffin’s new job as the head coach at FAU. Saban appointed oft embattled and occasionally inebriated Steve Sarkisian as the new OC even though Sarkisian, by NCAA rule, is not supposed to have been involved with the players at all during his time on the Alabama support staff. I know, Bama and rules, pfffft. Clemson comes off a complete dismantling of Ohio State in the semi-final game. The Tigers have the talent to win this championship game.
The SEC was clearly down this season from recent years, but there was evidence during the bowls that some traditional SEC powers are on the verge of returning to the elite. Unlike recent bowl matchups, Tennessee played and defeated a very good Nebraska team. Georgia beat TCU. Florida thumped Iowa. It is quite likely that the SEC East is closing the gap on the SEC West again.
Meanwhile, the West looks to be taking a step backward. Mississippi State really struggled without Dak Prescott. Mississippi currently sits with the 59th ranked recruiting class per one ranking service. With the NCAA watching the Rebels through a microscope it may be difficult for Hugh Freeze to recruit as well as he has in the past. Just saying. Also in the West there seems to be something missing at Texas A&M and it’s hard to see the Aggies sticking with Kevin Sumlin much longer if he doesn’t start producing. For all the accolades he has received and how well the Aggies have played at times, the fact that they hit the skids down the stretch every year and have yet to even make it to the conference title game is wearing thin in College Station. It remains to be seen what Ed Orgeron can do at LSU. Could it be there is a power shift in the SEC?
The argument can be made that the ACC was the best conference this year. Clemson, Louisville and FSU carried the torch for the oft beleaguered conference. However, it is worth noting that Louisville lost to both Kentucky and LSU to end their season. I wouldn’t write off the SEC just yet. The Pac 12 was a two team league and it was clear in the Peach Bowl that the Pac 12’s best was no match for the SEC’s best. The Big 12 certainly wasn’t the best conference and the Big Ten proved to be horribly overrated when it had four teams in the top ten.
So it all comes down to this Monday and the game for all the marbles. The conference that wins that game will have a legit claim to being the best. All season long, Alabama has been considered mostly unbeatable. The Tide are favored by nearly a touchdown against Clemson. I would still be confident in Alabama IF Nick Saban had not shuffled the deck the week before the game. With all of the coaching turmoil and it includes much more than just offensive coordinator, I actually like Clemson in this game. I’m thinking of a final score along the lines of Clemson 28-Alabama 24. Should be fun to watch.
Then the college football season will be over and the long wait for September begins. I know, there is signing day and spring practices to look forward to but it just isn’t the same. Sigh.