You could see it coming the minute Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson decided he was going to come back at the end of LAST SEASON.
You could see it coming when the word out of Tuscaloosa was that defending national champion Alabama had a chance to be even even better this season.
Clemson vs. Alabama, Part II. The prime cut of college football’s beef.
Yes, we know, Clemson–and Watson–didn’t look quite as sharp or quite as hungry as they did a year ago. They should have lost a few times and actually did lose to Pittsburgh–at home.
But Coach Dabo Sweeney’s team finally started to focus by winning the ACC Atlantic Division and then beating Virginia Tech in the ACC title game and then, on Saturday, really getting everything together with a 31-0 win over Ohio State in an Final Four semifinal game in the Fiesta Bowl.
Alabama started strong with a rout over USC and finished strong, with a solid 24-7 win over Washington in a Final Four semifinal in the Peach Bowl on Saturday. It never stumbled during the regular season. The Tide did nothing to diminish the speculation that this Alabama team may be one of the best defensive teams in the history of college football.
So there you have it, a rematch between the two best teams in college football in 2016, without much of an argument from anyone else.
The college football bowl season is now down to its final group of games–three on Monday and the national championship game on January 9th.
You can argue all you want about most of the 37 bowl games that have been played meant and proved nothing and you wouldn’t be wrong.
You can argue that there has been very little drama or even excitement in this entire bowl season, with the exception of Florida State’s 33-32 win over Michigan in the Orange Bowl, which was the runaway leader as the best bowl game of the season and needs to go into the Instant Classic file for all time bowl games.
There are also some other judgments you can make such as:
Ohio State, as a Jersey Guy has stated from selection Sunday a month ago, did not deserve to be in the Final Four. The Buckeyes had a good season which should have ended with a Rose Bowl appearance against USC, with Big Ten champion (and head to head winner over the Buckeyes) Penn State being slotted against Clemson.
The ACC has had a surprisingly good bowl season beyond Clemson and FSU. The ACC was the runaway leader among the conferences with an 8-3 bowl record.
Going into Monday’s games, the Big 10 was 2-4, the Pac-12 was 2-3, the SEC was 5-4 and the Big 12 was 3-3.
The bottom feeder was the Mid-American Conference which needs a Western Michigan upset of Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl on Monday to avoid an 0-6 MAC wipe out in bowl games.
If there were doubters about Louisville QB Lamar Jackson’s choice as the Heisman Trophy winner they appear to be justified after LSU, like Houston in Louisville’s must win game at the end of the regular season, completely neutralized Jackson in posting a lop-sided 29-9 win over the Cardinals in the Citrus Bowl.
The biggest surprises of the bowl season were Wake Forest beat American Athletic Conference champion Temple in the Military Bowl, Minnesota completely dominating Washington State in the Holiday Bowl and Baylor romping past Boise State in the Cactus Bowl.
There aren’t expected to be any more major moves in the college football coaching derby UNLESS one of the half dozen or so NFL teams expected to make a change can lure someone like Alabama’s Nick Saban or Ohio State’s Urban Meyer away from their comfort base.
I don’t think that will happen, but….
So it comes down to two teams remaining in the chase for one college football championship.
Despite all the usual drama surrounding the selection process, the right two teams will be facing each other next Monday night in Tampa.