The 2018 College Football National Championship is in the books. After an entire season of great college football, the National Championship came down to two teams from the SEC. Once again, the Alabama Crimson Tide was part of the College Football National Championship game.
The Tide has made it to the College Football National Championship game three years running. Check out a recap of the game as well as current odds for the 2019 College Football National Championship.
2017-2018 College Football National Championship Recap
National Championship: Alabama Crimson Tide 26, Georgia Bulldogs 23
The Alabama Crimson Tide didn’t even win the SEC. Georgia won the SEC. But, Alabama got the nod over the Ohio State Buckeyes for the CFP bid because the Buckeyes had 2 losses on their resume while the Crimson Tide had only a single loss on their resume.
The CFP Selection Committee turned out to be fortune tellers. Alabama demolished 1-seed Clemson 24 to 6. Then, in the National Championship, the Tide rolled over Georgia 26 to 23.
Okay…writing rolled over probably doesn’t do the game justice. Georgia, by no means, didn’t put up a fight. The Bulldogs played about as well as it could against the juggernaut that is Alabama Football. In fact, at halftime the score was Georgia Bulldogs 13 and Alabama Crimson Tide 0.
In the second half, did the Tide have any shot of mounting a comeback? Not until Alabama coach Nick Saban made one of the absolute boldest moves in the history of college football national championship games.
Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa
Nick Saban knew he had to do something. In the first half, his starting quarterback, talented Jalen Hurts, had been ineffective versus Georgia’s defense. The Bulldogs’ D was just too fast for Hurts. The Bulldogs’ linebackers were hitting the holes on rushing plays before Hurts could get there. They were so fast on the edge, Hurts couldn’t release the ball before the pressure caved in on him.
Saban knows Hurts isn’t a bad quarterback. But, Saban also knew at halftime of the National Championship that Hurts’ skill set wasn’t what the Tide needed to beat the Georgia Bulldogs.
Coach Saban made an incredibly bold move. He got Hurts together with his backup QB, Tua Tagovailoa. He told both quarterbacks that Tua would start the second half. Why? Saban decided that the only way to beat the Georgia Bulldogs was to pass the ball more.
That’s exactly what Tua Tagovailoa did. Tagovailoa’s overall stats weren’t Tom Brady-like. He only completed 14 of 24 passes for 166 yards. He also threw an interception. Those aren’t close to Terrific Tom-like. What was Brady-like is how Tagovailoa threw 3 TD passes.
Think about it. You’re a freshman from Hawaii whose entire family has moved to right outside Tuscaloosa because Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide believes in you. You’re called on to play your first snaps in Division 1 ball in the National Championship game versus a tough SEC rival.
And…you throw 3 TD passes?
What’s so impressive about Tagovailoa’s performance is the calm he showed in the huddle. The most important plays of the game happened in overtime. In Alabama’s first play in overtime, the Bulldogs pushed Tagovailoa backwards. Instead of throwing the football away, the freshman QB tried to make a play. The Tide lost 17-yards on the play.
While the entire stadium awash with Georgia red remained giddy about the first play, Tagovailoa had already set up the second play. He calmly looked off Georgia’s free safety. Then, he threw a 41-yard dart to wide receiver Devonta Smith.
That was it. Game over. Alabama 26, Georgia 23.
The “Why Didn’t They?” Award
Georgia handed the ball to brilliant senior running back Sony Michel 14 times. That’s it. Senior Nick Chubb got the ball 18 times. Michel’s skill set, much like Tagovailoa’s for the Tide, matched up better with Alabama’s defense than Chubb’s skill set matched up with Bama’s D.
Why didn’t the Bulldogs hand the ball off to Michel more than 14 times? I have no clue. To make matters even worse for Georgia, their freshman QB, Nick Fromm, was terrible in the second half. Fromm ended up completing 16 of 32 for 232 yards a TD, and 2 picks. The Dawgs kept going to the Fromm well over and over even though Michel had proven to be capable of out running the Bama D.
Often, the team that wins the biggest games is the one that makes the most important adjustments. In the 2018 College Football National Championship, Nick Saban made the much more important adjustments. Georgia should have handed the ball to Michel over 20 times on Monday night.
Alabama Coach Nick Saban Made History
Congratulations to coach Nick Saban. Monday’s National Championship was his 6th as a head coach in Division 1 College Football. That ties Saban with the legend himself, Bear Bryant. Saban’s first National Championship was with Alabama rival LSU. Saban’s 2004 LSU team went 13 and 1. The Tigers beat the Oklahoma Sooners 21 to 14 in the Sugar Bowl.
Saban’s first National Championship with the Alabama Crimson Tide was in 2009. Before 2009, the last championship the Tide had won was in 1992. Here’s a list of all Nick Saban’s National Championships:
** Championships listed by year of season
2004 – LSU 21, Oklahoma 14
2009 – Alabama 37, Texas 21
2011 – Alabama 21, LSU 0
2012 – Alabama 42, Notre Dame, 14
2015 – Alabama 45, Clemson 40
2017 – Alabama 26, Georgia 23
Is Saban the greatest head coach in the history of college football? I believe he is. Recruiting the talent to stay the best is brutal. There are so many great college football programs that it’s impossible to recruit the best of the best every year.
Because recruiting is so much more difficult now than it was in Bear’s time, I’d say that Nick Saban is the best ever.
2018-2019 College Football Quick Look
2019 College Football Championship Early Odds
Alabama Crimson Tide 3/1
Georgia Bulldogs 9/2
Clemson Tigers 6/1
Ohio State Buckeyes 8/1
Michigan Wolverines 10/1
Penn State Nittany Lions 12/1
Texas Longhorns 25/1
Miami Hurricanes 25/1
Wisconsin Badgers 25/1
Auburn Tigers 25/1
Based on the above odds, the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs should meet, again, in the College Football National Championship. I’m not sure that’s going to happen. Both teams will go through some changes this season.
Alabama should reload without any issues. The Tide showed their hand next season by playing two true freshmen in the win over the Bulldogs. Not only will QB Tua Tagovailoa be a sophomore this coming season, so will 6′ 2″, 227 lbs, running back Najee Harris. Harris rushed 6 times for 64 yards in the second half versus the Dawgs. In fact, Alabama’s entire current team is made up mostly of freshman and sophomores.
This isn’t true for Georgia. The Bulldogs’ roster is made up of a lot of seniors. Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, and Georgia’s top wide receiver, Javon Wims, are seniors. Most of Georgia’s front 7 on defense are made up of seniors.
If there are two teams on the list that college football fans must pay attention to, it’s the Michigan Wolverines and the Auburn Tigers. At 10 to 1, Vegas is offering fantastic odds on the Wolverines. Coach Jim Harbaugh had to replace most of his defensive players from the 2016 Michigan squad. Those guys, mostly 3-star to 5-star defenders, will be sophomores this season. The Wolverines’ offensive line should also be much better in 2018.
Auburn shouldn’t be taken lightly. The Tigers lost to Central Florida in their bowl game. But, the Tigers beat Alabama 26 to 14 in their Super Bowl, the yearly Iron Bowl, college football’s most important rivalry game. Auburn returns QB Jarrett Stidham. Stidham was a sophomore this season. Auburn’s top RB, Kerryon Johnson, was a junior this season. The defense returns enough talent to be better in 2018 than it was in 2017.
With all that being written, Alabama’s going to be tough to keep from the College Football Playoff. Nick Saban tied the great Bear Bryant when he won his 6th College Football National Championship this season. He’s got a great shot of running by Bear for his 7th National Championship in the 2018 College Football Season.
It’s only January and I can’t wait!