As one of my all-time favorite writers, Snoopy, said, “It was a dark and stormy night.” For fans of college football’s Georgia Bulldogs, today was perhaps a dark and stormy day as well. As tomorrow may be. And the next day.
Monday night’s BCS Championship game lived up a week of ESPN’s non-stop hype as the Alabama Crimson Tide roared from behind to win the 2017 BCS National Championship trophy with a thrilling 26-23 overtime win over the Georgia Bulldogs in an all-SEC match-up.
It was a tale of two halves as Georgia throttled Alabama’s vaunted running game and dared the Tide’s starting quarterback for the past two seasons, Jalen Hurts, to beat them with his arm. He couldn’t. At the half, Georgia easily led 13-0 (it should have been even larger) while Hurts’ was a woeful 3-for-8 passing for just 21 yards for Bama. If you were watching the game, you could feel the life being sucked out of Alabama’s chances in the first half as an inspired Georgia team grabbed the momentum with solid offensive plays and a stellar defensive effort.
And then, just like that, he did it. Yep, it was HIM again! Who else but Alabama’s now legendary head football coach, Nick Saban, would pull his starting quarterback out of the line-up to begin the second half of the national championship game and put an inexperienced freshman under center to rally his offense?
Can you think of any other coach in America that, given the national spotlight, would have the guts to make such a tough but perfectly timed coaching move? Saban, who coined the phrase “Trust the process”, saw his offense embrace that change beginning in the second half as the Tide caught fire and roared back from 13 points down for the win.
Tua Tagovailoa came off the bench to complete 16 of 24 passes for 166 yards in the second half and propelled a Drew Brees-like dart for a 41-yard touchdown in overtime to win the contest for the Crimson Tide and hand their coach his sixth national title. Nick Saban joins former Alabama head football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant at the top of college football’s royalty with 6 crowns each.
Coach Saban had complete confidence in his young freshman quarterback’s ability to move the team, “I couldn’t be prouder of him taking advantage of the opportunity. We have total confidence in him. We played him a lot in a lot of games this year, and he did very well.”
Hats off to a Georgia squad who battled hard, but who appeared to have been dazed by the late Alabama comeback. Someone had to lose this game, and Alabama lost a similar heartbreaker last year to Clemson. Georgia looks ready to reload and come back strong again next season.
And “Congratulations” to the BCS National Champion, Alabama! It was a hard-fought victory.
But it’s now time to crown SwampSwami’s National Champion! In my weekly rankings, I utilized the final 2016 AP Top 25 college football poll as indicative of how the new season should start-off. I theorized that last year’s final rankings should count for something. Each week, more and more teams lost a game and dropped down (or off) the SwampSwami poll.
Only one team remained unblemished at the end of this season. UCF beat the team (Auburn) which beat both Alabama and Georgia this season. If the object of football is to win every game, just one team accomplished that goal.
The University of Central Florida Knights have been atop my rankings since November. Their win over Auburn in the Peach Bowl was impressive and convincing. For all the whiners who said, “Auburn didn’t care about this game”, you sure could have fooled me and millions of others watching the contest. UCF finished a perfect 13-0.
For that, the Associated Press voters put UCF at #6 in this season’s final poll behind one-loss Alabama and two-loss Georgia, Oklahoma, Clemson, and Ohio State teams. Four of the 61 first place votes went to UCF while the rest went to a very worthy Alabama team.
The way I see it, you can’t beat perfection. Congratulations on a terrific season, UCF! You deserved the 2017 SwampSwami college football National Championship!