For once the Alabama Crimson Tide are not the favorite heading into college football’s version of the Final Four. Due to that unlikely 26-14 loss to Auburn two weeks ago (and Ohio State’s win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game), the Tide will be the No. 4 seed and have to play No. 1 Clemson in the Sugar Bowl down in New Orleans on New Year’s Day.
Still, the Tide come in having gone 39-3 over the last three seasons and have a championship pedigree that is unmatched in the college pigskin game in this modern era. I mean it’s ridiculous to think that Nick Saban’s boys are looking to win their fifth national title in the last nine years here in January. That’s mind boggling.
Can they come from the back of the pack and win more FBS bling-bling? Here is how they can get it done, again.
5 Reasons Why Alabama Will Win the College Football Playoff
1. Because people don’t think they belong
“It should’ve been Ohio State,” “They didn’t win their conference.” “They got in because of their name.” “Gary Danielson politicked for them.”
Alabama is going to get long in the tooth listening to all the sudden naysayers about their program and how they shouldn’t belong in college football’s final four. We are seeing the Tide in a whole new light, and that has nothing to do with Sunday night’s “supermoon.” They are actually underdogs and people don’t believe they should get this shot. I think all this talk is going to put a big chip on the collective shoulders of the Crimson Tide and they’re going to come out and want to make a point. Hashtag: Motivation
2. The revenge factor
Yes you read that right, they’re going to match up vs. Clemson for the third College Football Playoff in a row. They will never be able to live down that gut-punch of losing last year’s national championship game on the last play. But they CAN do something about exacting revenge against the Tigers. The big challenge will be that Clemson front seven. Most years Alabama would simply pile-drive people up front and let those big, hungry running backs feed on hapless safeties and linebackers. But Clemson presents one line-vs-line showdown Bama can’t assume they’ll line up and win. Getting some plays outside the pocket and down the field from Jalen Hurts (above right) will be very necessary if the Tide are to rise above the Tigers again.
3. Except for one hiccup, they were the best team all season
It wasn’t just the polls that had Alabama No. 1 from the preseason through November 26th, the computers, the FPI and CFP rankings had them at the top as well. Nobody swayed for 11 weeks on having the Tide No. 1. But yes, everybody has a “stinker” of a game at least once a season. So the Tide’s bad smell just happened to come in their last game in a tough environment on the Plains, so what? Should they really be dropped down to No. 4?
4. Healing up
Word of warning to anybody willing to strap it up vs. Alabama in four weeks; they are going to be healthy once again. Bama has played with a M*A*S*H unit on defense this season. There have been 40 missed starts on that side of the ball through 12 games. But the good news is that 37 of those starts will be back for the game vs. Clemson. Hootie Jones and Shaun Dion Hamilton will be out, but the rest of the defense is back and will have four weeks to prepare together and gel as a unit once again. And even still, Alabama is ranked No. 1 in defensive points per game at 11.5 points and is second in total defense with just 258 yards allowed per contest. That’s still incredibly stout.
5. C’mon it’s Alabama
We’re talking four-for-four here. Four years of the CFP and four appearances by the Red Elephants. They’re used to this stage. Hurts is a year older and many years wiser. They’re old vets at this playoff deal. Nothing is going to faze them; even being the “last team in” will make little difference. They’ll just tighten up the chinstraps like they always do and pound people into submission. It’s the Crimson Tide way. And one more thing, nobody gets their team ready to play for the trophy games like Nick Saban does. Give him four weeks to prepare and he’ll beat anybody. And yes, that includes the Cleveland Browns.
— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.