Here’s a game college football fans can play on New Year’s Eve as they wait for Monday’s semifinal showdowns between Georgia and Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl and Alabama and Clemson in the Sugar Bowl.

Try talking about the Final Four games, about the players and about the playoffs and NOT find a connection to Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

Oh,  you can talk about Oklahoma and its Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Baker Mayfield, but if the Sooners are going to be taking curtain calls after the final act of the college football season in Atlanta on January 8, they may have to get past Alabama–and Saban.

You can talk about the re-emergence of Georgia as a national contender under Kirby Smart.  But guess where Smart was before he arrived in Athens?  At Alabama, as an assistant on Saban’s staff.

Clemson and Coach Dabo Swinney certainly deserve the respect that winning a national championship earned them last season.  Guess who has stood in their way the last 2 season–Alabama and Saban? To get to Atlanta next week, Clemson and Swinney must find a way to eliminate Alabama–and Saban.

Clemson goes into the Final Four as the No. 1 ranked team in the country, the defending ACC champion and the defending national champion.

When the pairings were announced, Clemson–as the No. 1 seed–was matched against No. 4 seed Alabama and found itself immediately tabbed as a 3 point underdog.

Let’s go back a few weeks to the drama surrounding the selection of the Four playoff teams.  The only uncertainty was whether Big Ten champion Ohio State or Alabama, a runner up in the SEC West, would get the No. 4 spot behind Clemson, Georgia (SEC champ) and Oklahoma (Big 12 champ). The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.