By: Rajan Nanavati
Detractors of the NBA will tell you that the league is pointless, because you know the Golden State Warriors are so much better than everyone else. Sports fans all over the country hated the New York Yankees during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s because they won all the time. That animosity towards bullying the rest of their sport carried over to the New England Patriots, from the early 2000’s until present day.
As a society, we like things that are new and surprising and even inspirational. More importantly, we tire of the same old thing: nobody wants to eat the same food, or wear the same clothes over and over again.
So you can imagine the chagrin of college football fans – especially those outside of the southeastern part of the United States – when it appears that we’re once again headed for a National Championship race featuring the University of Alabama and Clemson University for the fourth time in a row.
It’s probably premature to say that these two teams are going to be among the last four standing come early January. After all, each of these teams not only has to finish the rest of their remaining schedule in the regular season and then win their respective conferences, but they also have to secure spots in college football’s playoffs.
Yet roughly halfway through the college football season, Alabama and Clemson once again find themselves at the top of the national rankings, after the latest would be contender – another familiar face in the Ohio State Buckeyes – suffered their first loss of the season. The Crimson Tide and the Tigers remain two of the only four teams in the nation with an undefeated record. While the Fighting Irish are the third of those remaining four teams without a blemish, given what we’ve seen over the past few weeks, they shouldn’t be taking anything for granted.
But with Alabama and Clemson, it’s rather ironic to see these two atop the standings, not only because they’ve played each other the last three years (twice in the National Championship game), but because they’re almost copycats of one another.
Both teams are led by among the most respected coaches in college football, albeit with very different personalities. Both teams lean on a potent running attack on offense, and a defense dripping with players on the defensive line and in the secondary who’ll hear their name called very early in the NFL Draft. On top of that, both teams even feature young quarterbacks who were among the most heralded recruits in the country, and supplanted the incumbent ahead of them very shortly after arriving n campus. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa is one of the very best quarterbacks in the nation, and the presumed leader in the Heisman Trophy race, while Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence has an uncanny level of football abilities and beyond-his-years poised.
The Tigers have to be wary that a lesser-heralded team – like Syracuse last year or Pittsburgh the year before – doesn’t pull off a major upset, while the Tide have to avenge their loss against Auburn and possibly get through Georgia in the SEC Title game, before we can anticipate these two teams potentially facing each other in the postseason.
But if they do, we could be in for a very familiar matchup to determine college football’s beast team this season.