This year’s College Football Playoffs features some intriguing storylines from each of the four teams. With all four deserving of the bid, we look at what each team must accomplish to bring the National Championship home.
Alabama Crimson Tide
This was the most interesting decision that the committee made when deciphering who would be in the final four. After Ohio State beat the formerly undefeated Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten championship, the committee had to choose between an 11-1 Alabama or a 11-2 Ohio State. This decision by the committee ultimately came down to their love for Alabama and inability to have a playoff without them. With television ratings on the committee’s minds, they needed the Crimson Tide’s presence. So, Alabama has been given a second chance to prove their worth.
Just be Alabama
When players commit to Alabama, they realize that they are going to be a part of a winning culture. This Alabama team is no different than any in the past. Saban and company have been in these types of circumstances so many times and they know how to win big games in January. They do it with their hard-nose rushing attack and intense defense. Alabama is going to have to stick to the same game plan that they always have and they will be fine. Having said that, it may not be the most fun to watch style of play in the world either.
Get Nick Saban angry
Speaking of coaches who love to get energetic from the bench, Nick Saban can get pretty fiery on the sidelines. With Saban realizing that Alabama still has a lot to prove after not making it to the SEC Championship, he will be even more energetic and angry on the sidelines. Hopefully that means a Saban and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll duel, as we know the Alabama head coach is not afraid to give his fellow staff members a piece of his mind.
However, Saban’s anger could be a key factor in helping Alabama win the national title. There’s nothing players hate more than having their coach yelling at them, so expect Alabama’s players to do their best to keep Saban happy.
The second SEC team to make the CFB Playoff is the Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia defeated arguably the hottest team in CFB in Auburn by a score of 28-7 in the SEC championship game. Georgia’s defense, led by SEC title game MVP Roquan Smith, has been hitting everything that moves this season. The Bulldogs could be viewed as this years surprised team, as very few could have predicted they would make it to the final four.
Trust the running backs
Georgia has been playing a lot of smash mouth football this season behind their two star running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. Michel and Chubb have combined for over 2000 rushing yards this season and 26 rushing touchdowns. It would be foolish if Georgia decides to try and put the pressure on freshman quarterback Jake Fromm with these two fresh, veteran running backs sitting in the shadows.
Kirby be Smart
If Kirby Smart was, well, smart, he would avoid tampering with this team in any way before the playoffs start. Right now, the Bulldogs are arguably the hottest team in the playoff behind Oklahoma and look like they have all their swagger back after the defeat to Auburn earlier in the year. No trick plays, all-out blitzes or fourth down attempted fakes, just stick to the script Kirby.
Oklahoma has been one of the most exciting teams that I have watched in a long time when it comes to College Football. Not only is it because of Baker Mayfield, but the Sooners flat out know how to put points on the board. Mayfield’s season has propelled the Sooners into prime position for their first national championship since 2000. The Heisman Trophy winner only has one thing missing from his legacy, a national title.
Let Baker be Baker
Baker’s college career has been outstanding, but this year feels different. With all the showboating and derogatory acts, Mayfield has created an identity for himself. Some love it and some hate it, but there is no denying that Mayfield’s fire has been a driving force for the Sooners this season. If Oklahoma wants to win the title, Mayfield needs to be himself.
This key to winning the title unfortunately cannot be controlled by Oklahoma (barring that they beat Georgia). One SEC victory is impressive, but two SEC wins is just unheard of. Oklahoma is already at a disadvantage because they play in the BIG 12 where they have not faced a real defense all year. Alabama and their stifling defense would most likely cause some problems for the Sooners, so the team should be rooting as hard as they can for Clemson to take down the Tide.
Game-manager Kelly Bryant
The Clemson Tigers have one of the best front sevens in the nation with Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant and Christian Wilkins. Having said that, this defense as a unit has been playing its best football in years. For the offensive side of the ball, Kelly Bryant just needs to be average if Clemson wants to win the championship. This means no turnovers, no taking bad sacks and most importantly no injuries. If Kelly Bryant does his best impression of Alex Smith, Clemson has a good chance of leaving Atlanta as the champion.
Visualize then attack
The good old Waterboy tactic. Not only is this part of one of the most hilarious football movies of all time, but it is a strategy that Dabo Swinney may have to implement into his team. After defeating the Miami Hurricane in the ACC Championship, Dabo decided that the team would cut a replica turnover chain to celebrate their victory. Now Clemson can use this event as “tackling fuel.” By visualizing every single member of the opposition as this turnover chain, they will be able to pull off the repeat.