You knew this was coming a year ago — the football programs at Alabama and Clemson have demonstrated repeatedly that they are simply on another plane from everyone else.
Now, for the fourth time, the two will meet in the Alabama Invitational, er, the College Football Playoffs, and will battle for the title for the third time in four years.
The very thought enrages millions of fans, who would love seeing Alabama embarrassed only slightly more than seeing both teams disappear. Check the rosters — both are stacked with talent so deep neither are going anywhere, either next year or in the near future.
Nick Saban, a.k.a. the greatest of all time, took former Bama player Dabo Sweeney to school in 2015 as the Tide prevailed, 45-40. A year later the Tigers earned redemption, when two self-inflicted penalties on the fateful drive — capped by the penultimate non-called offensive pass interference in college football history — allowed the abomination of a 35-31 Clemson win.
Payback came in the semifinals last season, when Bama manhandled the so-called greatest defensive line in the land and ran to a 24-6 win, strangling the Clemson offense along the way.
Now the Tigers are back and determined for vengeance. The worthiest foe they have seen outside of (ach-cough-gag) Georgia, Clemson is more than a threat to wrest the crown from Bama — they are a deadly, perilous foe and perhaps the only team not scared by the mere sight of the crimson helmets.
The Observant Reader, having perused this far, is also likely to have been unlikely to have avoided at least some of the forecast and predictions for the game, so there is no point in rehashing what has been beaten to death.
As much as I love Bama, I have mad respect for Clemson and the job Dabo has done in creating what amounts to the closest thing to Bama not in Tuscaloosa.
There will be moments of doubt. Moments when my facebook, text and email will doubtless explode, as it did when Georgia raced out in front last year and again in the SEC title game last month. That I don’t answer or even look during games, no matter the score, does not seem to matter.
Clemson is going to have their moments. Probably several of them. And any Alabama fan would tell you they would be sleeping easier if Saban had a month to prepare (in which case he is all but statistically unbeatable) as opposed to week, because Clemson has been prepping for Bama for a year.
The difference between the two is thin, but the edge still belongs to Alabama, and unless they do something to beat themselves, the Tide will rise again. Hate all you want, because, as Kirk Herbstreit first warned the country 10 years ago, Alabama is not going anywhere.
National championship 18 in 2018. Six of the last 10 (in a perfect world it would be 8 of 10, but that is another story …) and a promise of more to come. Bama, 37-27. ROLL TIDE.