Monday, January 8, 2018

2018 College Football National Championship Game: Fire And Thunder

The Southeastern Conference is the first in the nation since the inception of the College Football Playoff to have two teams play for a National Championship after the Crimson Tide’s 24-6 victory over Clemson and the Jawja Bulldawg’s 54-48 double-overtime thriller against the Sooners.
I remember back on August 18, 2017 when some jackleg over at CBS Sports claimed the SEC was no longer the top conference.  Chip Patterson noted
“There is always a lot of crowing about conference supremacy during media days. Whichever league finished the previous season with the most trophies puts them on display and has the chance to use its time at the microphone to fill the empty July news cycle with flattering stories and headlines.”
“The final years of the pre-College Football Playoff era were owned by the SEC. Not only did the SEC run off seven straight national titles, but it also recruited Missouri and Texas A&M from the Big 12 and inked a 20-year deal for a cable network. When Florida State bested Auburn in the final BCS Championship Game and Ohio State bounced Alabama from the first CFP, the perception of conference power shifted ever so slightly to entertain, for the first time since the early 2000s, that maybe another league could claim to be the best in college football.”
“With the top spot up for grabs, the ACC's coaches were more than happy to claim it for themselves after Clemson's national championship, Florida State's Orange Bowl win and Lamar Jackson's Heisman Trophy run headlined the most successful college football season in league history.”
CBS ranked the ACC No. 1 with the SEC behind it at No. 2. The Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 followed to round out the Top 5.
And yet, here we are.  All the other conferences have been vanquished.  The SEC West meets the SEC East to decide who will be crowned king at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
The series history between these two schools is 38-4-25.  Alabama leads the series.  Bama defeated the Bulldogs 32-28 in the 2012 SEC Championship Game.  The next time the Tide would battle the Dawgs was during the regular season in 2015.  They came away with a 38-10 victory followed one month later by the school firing Head Coach Mark Richt.
The SEC celebrates itself like no other which thoroughly infuriates fans in other conferences.  SEC teams have played for the college football national championship in 12 of the last 15 years. 
Many have pointed to Coach Saban’s amazing 11-0 record against his former assistants in their new head coaching positions.  Many have called attention to his chances of tying the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant’s record of national championships.  All of that is interesting chit-chat.  But that’s all it is.  Vegas has the Dawgs as a 3-point underdog.  ESPN’s Matchup Predictor gives Bama a 57.5% chance of victory.
The game tonight features a pair of one-loss teams that arrived at the title game following two distinctly different paths. Their paths have converged and all that remains is for the young men who have fought tooth and nail all season to dig deep into their psyches and muster the pride and courage to win.
I was born and raised a Southerner.  I’m damned proud of that.  I’m damned proud of Georgia and Alabama.  The BCS was created to keep the SEC out of contention for a national championship and when that didn’t pan out the BCS was ditched for the CFB.  Like it or not the strategy didn’t work.  Nick Saban and Kirby Smart are both good men leading equally excellent football programs.
I believe my beloved Crimson Tide will win tonight.  That is something I fervently pray for, however if Georgia wins I will congratulate their fans and thank them for elevating the SEC to undeniable dominance.


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