Breaking Down The Alabama-Notre Dame & Clemson-Ohio State Winners
There are some who said it would never happen, a few who didn’t want it to happen but were forced to make it happen, and others who wish it had never happened at all.
But college football went forward in 2020 and thanks to some creative adjustments by conferences and athletic directors, has advanced to the bowl season and the College Football Playoffs.
Perhaps schools like Michigan, Penn State, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida State and, in the end USC, might have wished there was no season at all after all. And desperate athletic departments, fueled by boosters clamoring for elusive success, proved that even during layoffs and a pandemic they can find the funds to toss coaches golden lifesavers from their sinking ships.
But while some programs experienced drought, others found prosperity. The season saw the emergence of a surprise team in the Hoosier state, a flash of Liberty and a team in coastal South Carolina with the odd nickname of the Chanticleers that rode the wave of who-the-heck-are-they success.
All this leads us to the playoffs featuring a dominant team with two (and could have been three) Hesiman finalists, another one with a feisty coach looking to pick a fight, one with unquestioned firepower but questionable credentials, and a fourth that used some of its traditional good fortune to bump out a more deserving squad located at an old train depot known as College Station.
Onto the games. All times Pacific because the Pigskin Prognosticator lives in San Diego.
Alabama vs. Notre Dame (Rose Bowl in Dallas), 1 p.m., ESPN
The brief but significant history of these two programs resumes in strange circumstances, the game being called the Rose Bowl but happening in Jerry’s World and the crimson-clad marauders choosing not to be in “Tide territory” at the Sugar Bowl because of the larger (16,000 to 5,000) allowed crowd attendance in the Big D.
They could being playing by a water hole in the Serengeti, however, and it would not matter to the Pachyderms, a powerful heard that stomped its way unbeaten through the SEC, leaving behind a cloud of dust and footprints on opponents’ jerseys.
Driven by a Mac (Jones) truck that contains a lion of a running back and a fleet of cheetahs at wide receiver, all protected by a convoy of linemen, this team is storming its way toward another title game.
The Leprechauns counter with an offense led primarily by the opportunistic scrambling of its quarterback and not much else. They have neither a powerful run game or a nimble passing attack to make up what its defense – which either had a really bad day in the ACC Championship or was fool’s gold to begin with – is sure to give up against the surging Tide from Tuscalooa.
The Irish were completely uncompetitive their conference title game and may wind up wishing that Texas A&M had gotten into this game instead of them after all. Winner: Alabama
Clemson vs. Ohio State (Sugar Bowl in New Orleans), 5 p.m., ESPN
Way down by the ol’ Swinney River, the head Clemson cat is acting like a caged cougar, pacing back and forth looking to spring loose and attack the closest passing target. He’s already left some claw marks for others to see, voting his opponent 11th in the coaches poll and saying – rather brashly – that teams which didn’t play a full schedule should not be in the playoffs while ignoring the fact his own team benefited from his conference gifting it a spot in the ACC Championship game.
And while the pundits are predicting the Pumas will come crashing out of the gate and pummel their hapless victims, making them react like a deer in the headlights, they are forgetting that the eyes of these Bucks are focused on the opportunity in front of them. Anyone is also nuts to think the Acorns are not hungry for revenge after their emotions were crushed after last year’s semifinal loss, a game in which they legitimately felt was taken from them by a herd of zebras.
Justin will have a Fields day against the Clemson D, especially bounding through its suspect secondary, and running back Trey will be preaching a Sermon on busting big plays.
The Felines, tho, have the Lawrence of Clemson to always come to their rescue and that – along with being a more complete squad – will be the difference. Winner: Clemson