Seriously. If the eyes don’t deceive and what transpired the past two Saturday nights was legit, just fuhgettaboutit.
The deal is done.
Clemson will repeat as college football’s national champion.
Though admittedly not a daily genuflector at the altar of Nick Saban, have never ignored, or failed to appreciate, what he has accomplished at Alabama, basically turning arguably the most storied program in the sport into something better than it ever had been before – even under Bear Bryant.
Kinda hard to just gloss over four titles since 2009, ya know …
But, the reality is, or appears to be, that the Tigers – ironically under the direction of former Crimson Tide receiver, and, later, assistant coach Dabo Swinney – have passed ’Bama.
Yep. Said it. Not only that, truly believe it.
Frankly, a play here or there going different in the 2016 championship game, and Saban could be looking at a 0-2 record against Swinney under the brightest of big-time college football lights. Point is, Clemson didn’t just eat alive Alabama’s vaunted defense nine months ago to capture its first crown since 1982, it did so the year before, too.
If you ask me, the better team – check that, better program – lost two years ago. Then it avenged that loss, and, right now, it looks head and shoulders beyond anything that may step in its path this season. Including Alabama.
Not for nothing, but that season-opening “blowout” of Florida State by the Tide wasn’t exactly impressive. The Seminoles looked to have the better athletes; ’Bama the better football players. The latter won out, benefitting from some silly FSU plays and winning the war of attrition. That resulted in a 17-point victory.
The slate for Saban’s team since has included expected home wins against OK opposition – Fresno State and Colorado State, the latter of which actually rolled up close to 400 yards.
Clemson, meanwhile, has dominated its first three games, most notably in shutting down high-powered Auburn and then essentially obliterating Louisville and reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson on the road the other night. Held Alabama’s assumed chief SEC competition to 6 points, then Jackson and Co. to just 7 into the fourth quarter.
We’re not talking nice, solid, or even impressive wins here. We’re talking almost embarrassing physical poundings, ones that saw the Tigers’ NFL-reader defensive line toy with its counterpart while junior quarterback Kelly Bryant blossomed into something far beyond a capable replacement for Deshaun Watson.
Still, with two months and change to go in the regular season, there is time for teams to catch up. Just not sure even the No. 1-ranked squad in the country ever will.
Not from what the eyes behind these words have seen.
Just Sayin’ ... Like most who follow the sport, am incredibly impressed with the talent possessed by Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, but, if you ask me, he is not the team’s best, or most important, player – quarterback Trace McSorley is – and he actually seems to be losing some flexibility with each new program weight-lifting record he sets.
Crazy as it may sound, considering the numbers he puts up, but the guy isn’t the most graceful, or most balanced, athlete out there … and, you know what, he used to be. Perhaps he’s just so desperate to have the ball in his hands, he gets super excited once he does and starts to stumble over himself, but, to me, Barkley isn’t nearly as smooth as he has been in the past. Powerful? Explosive? Oh, heck yeah.
As for McSorley, he’s a freak … blending skill, football I.Q., intangibles and attitude into program-elevating level.
Bye-bye? ... If we’re really putting the Heisman candidates under a microscope, Jackson is gone after his performance against Clemson. Yeah, he ended up throwing for more than 300 yards and running for another 60-plus, but he was a non-factor on the plus side until the fourth quarter, when the game’s outcome had long since been determined. Truth be told, he was dramatically outplayed by his younger counterpart – Bryant – and didn’t even flash any of his electric talents when things mattered.
UCLA’s Josh Rosen may have thrown himself out, too, tossing a key pick – his second INT of the afternoon – late against Memphis to seal the Bruins’ upset loss on the road. Kid threw for more than 400 yards, but, like Jackson, was outplayed by his counterpart, Riley Ferguson.
A Tree Falls … Goofy, leaf-bearing mascot aside, Stanford is a major surprise this season – in how unsuccessful it has been. Expected to be a serious contender for the Pac-12 title, the Cardinal in losses the last two Saturdays has been exposed by conference rival Southern Cal and non-conference foe San Diego State – get this, despite being able to run the ball.
Long a staple in the program, the ground game ain’t struggling. Bryce Love ran for 160 yards against the Trojans and then 184 against the Aztecs, averaging a Glenn Davis-esque 11.5 yards per carry in the process, yet all Stanford could muster was 41 points combined the past two games.