Alabama's Nick Saban on Bear Bryant
Look, I hate to spoil the party here. I want Clemson to win the College Football Championship, too, and deny Alabama coach Darth Vader and his latest legion of stormtroopers yet another title. It would be more fun that way.
But am I going to bet against Nick Saban and a team that once again bulges with NFL talent? No. Alabama will win its fifth national championship in the past eight years on Monday night, beating Clemson for the second year in a row in the season finale.
In fact, I don’t think this one will be as close as last year’s 45-40 shootout. I’m thinking Alabama by about 10 points.
Alabama is not an exciting team to watch. Clemson boasts the game’s best player in quarterback Deshaun Watson, who likely should have won the Heisman Trophy. Alabama has a true freshman quarterback who mostly just likes to run the ball.
But geez, that Alabama defense can score points all by itself and usually does get about one return touchdown per game. And Alabama has a difference-maker in running back Bo Scarbrough, who will play the role of “Big Back in a Boring Offense” that is characteristic of basically all of Saban’s teams.
Run the ball. Play great defense. Do just enough on offense. They are all Alabama staples, and they get the job done. The way Alabama plays football is like a good recipe for cornbread – it works every time.
I know that a lot of people saw those two national semifinals, saw that Jalen Hurts threw for only 57 yards for Alabama against Washington and decided that Clemson was going to win this game after the Tigers pulverized Ohio State. And then Saban more or less fired offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin from a job that Kiffin had already quit.
I don’t think that will hurt, though. Kiffin has long been a drama king and had one hand on the doorknob already. Saban just hastened his beloved process by pushing Kiffin the rest of the way out that door, and now he will make sure he gets more running plays this time around. Clemson’s fearsome defensive line may be able to shut down Scarbrough, but as much as I would like that to happen I don’t think it will.
Most of all, though, Alabama’s defense will be the difference. Watson will throw for a lot of yards, but ultimately it won’t be enough. Washington was averaging 44.5 points, remember, and only scored seven. As much as many of us don’t want it to happen, the Crimson Tide rolls again Monday night.