Every military kid I know has a first favorite football team and a second favorite team. Their first favorite is the team of their hometown, or where their parents are from. Their second favorite is the team of the state that their parent is currently stationed at. For me, that team is Clemson. Even before moving to Charleston, I rooted for Clemson, as long as they weren’t playing against LSU. But being in South Carolina during one of Clemson’s best seasons, I have caught a little Clemson fever. Don’t misunderstand me. I will never like them even one-trillionth of how much I like LSU.
I would not be writing this pre-national championship post with so much passion if Clemson were playing any ole team. However, with Clemson playing Alabama, LSU’s biggest rival, I am passionate about Clemson pulling off this win. As Zeke likes to say, our first favorite team is LSU and our second favorite team is whoever is playing Alabama. So, Geaux Tigers!
If there is one thing in the world that I’d like to see almost as much as LSU winning is Alabama losing, and I think my chance has come. I’ve seen Clemson’s offense play from the stands and it was fun to watch. My dad and I got the tickets from a man at our church who has had Clemson season tickets since the 1960s. When we went to the Clemson vs. South Carolina game, I made up my mind that if there is one team to beat Alabama it’s them. My suspicion was confirmed when they scored 31 points against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State supposedly had the 3rd best defense in the nation. Clemson’s defense never let Ohio State put a point on the board.
On Friday, all the fifth grade teachers called me over to their lunch table to tell them why I was predicting Clemson to win the national championship. I’ll write here the same thing I told them. It is a well-known fact that Alabama doesn’t handle tempo full spread offenses like Clemson very well. We all saw last year a similar Alabama defense get picked apart by Deshaun Watson when he went 30 out of 47 for 405 yards and got four touchdowns. The only tempo spread in the SEC is Ole Miss and not surprisingly they were the only team to score 43 points against Bama this year. If Ole Miss can put up 43 points, imagine what Clemson will do.
A smart and experienced quarterback like Deshaun Watson is extremely important against Alabama. Alabama has scored on 6 out of their 16 picks for touchdowns, and in a game like this that can mean the game. Alabama lives off their defense and LSU showed that they can be held to ten points easily if you have a good defense, which I think Clemson owns. For Alabama’s offense to do well, the offensive line needs to protect Jalen Hurts long enough for the play to break up and for him to take advantage. Jalen Hurts needs to get to the side line or Bo Scarbrough needs to get holes up the middle. I know for a fact Clemson has some beastly defensive ends that can contain Jalen Hurts, and a couple of defensive tackles that can plug up holes in the middle and get past the offensive line to get the quarterback. If I were Clemson, I wouldn’t worry about Jalen Hurts arm too much but I would recognize the wide receiver screens and make sure I put one or two extra defensive backs right there because Alabama runs a lot of those. I would make sure to not over pursue Jalen Hurts but focus on containing him (like what LSU did to Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville). If Clemson can do that, they can get him into situations where he has to throw. If this game is anything like the Fiesta Bowl, they can pick him off four times.
Going into the game, Alabama is missing one key factor, offensive coach Lane Kiffin. Kiffin had already agreed that he would take the head coach position at Florida Atlantic, but his plan was to finish the season first with Alabama. Still, he had already started calling recruits for his next job and was late to meetings and after playing a horrible game of offense against Washington in the Peach Bowl, Nick Saban let him go. The replacement of Lane Kiffin for the game is Steve Sarkisian who got in trouble at USC for being an alcoholic. He hasn’t even put on a headset in over a year and is going into a championship game really green.
I have already bet six dollars on this game with friends. In a kid’s world, six dollars is a lot.
Geaux Tigers!! (Both of them)
I think your analysis is spot on! I am always torn in games like this. While I hate Alabama as much as the next LSU fan, I hat to see them lose the national championship to another conference, because I think it doesn’t bode well for the SEC! So for me, I pull for LSU, then SEC teams and them others if LSU or SEC is not playing! So, we shall see tomorrow night! Thanks for a thoughtful and well communicated breakdown!
Mr. Keith I agree with you and I would always go for the SEC. But don’t you think things are getting a little gipped if in the last 8 years bama’s won 6 titles.
Micah, I love your analysis, it is well thought out and makes excellent sense; however, as a SEC fan for life, I cannot align with my eldest grandson this time. I always pull for the SEC, whoever represents it, even Bama. Who do I think will win: My experience indicates that most of the time, teams like Clemson/Ohio State, etc. do not play against the level of competition found week in – week out in the SEC, even down to the lowest level. Thus, what often happens is the vaunted offensive stars from other conferences fizzle against a stout defense like the one Bama brings; I anticipate that will happen next Monday night, even though Jalen is not in the same league with Deshaun for sure.
Now my experience does not hold true every time, but it is pretty reliable; so I’m going with Bama and I’ve got a buck on it, if you want to take it.
Poppy you are right that no other conference can compete with the SEC but we saw keep up with them last year. So why can’t they do it again, and win?If this wasn’t Alabama’s 5th or 6th time in 8 years going to the national championship I would go for the SEC but they’re getting old, and no dynasties should last forever even in the SEC because LSU would have a clearer shot at the title if bama wasn’t in the way. I’m willing to take you r dollar.
Ah, it appears I owe my loving grandson one each American dollar, and I must now acknowledge your expertise in predicting football games. You have a good point, it time for Bama to move and let LSU take the reins for awhile.