A Dynasty Continues in the Desert

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There are dominant teams in any sport and at any level but then there is Alabama football that has been consistently one of the best teams in the NCAA for years.

It is far harder for any team to be as consistent as the Tide have been over the last few years and a lot of that has to do with head coach Nick Saban.

Since Saban became the head coach in 2007 the Tide have been ranked outside of the top at the end of the year only once, his first year as head coach.

In that same time Saban has guided one of the most legendary programs to three national titles and this year had guided his team to another national championship game.

It was a familiar place for Saban and a comfortable place as he had never lost in a national title game.

Saban has been so successful in his time at the head of Alabama that heading into the 2016 title game with comparisons to the most legendary coach in the state, Bear Bryant.

After all Saban was looking for his fifth title as the head coach and was catching up to Bryant who won six titles in his time as the head coach.

Their 2016 game was a chance for the Tide to continue this time at the top of college football and many had them crowned before the game even began as they went into the game as the favourites.

It was a bit of a strange place to be for the #2 team in the country when their opponents were the #1 team and the only undefeated team in the country.

The Clemson Tigers had been underdogs the entire season as everyone was waiting for their annual failure to kick them out of the playoff.

They never had that game as they continued to beat everyone thanks to a good defence and Heisman finalist quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Many thought that North Carolina was going to be a tough test in the ACC Championship and yet they beat them 45-37.

Then they entered the playoff as the underdogs to the #4 Oklahoma Sooners but easily beat up on them winning their spot in the national championship 37-17.

They had proven that the #1 spot in the rankings was the real deal but still they entered the championship game as a full touchdown underdog to the Tide.

Alabama had entered the game after losing only once the entire season led by their Heisman winning running back, Derrick Henry, and the best defence in the country.

They had been playing better than most teams at the end of the year beating Florida 29-15 in the SEC championship and then shutting out the Michigan State Spartans 37-0 in the Cotton Bowl.

That had plenty of people believing that the Tide were playing the best football heading into the title game but the Tigers were there to try to prove everyone wrong.

The game turned out to be a clash of styles but not necessarily the styles that everyone expected out of both teams.

The Tigers were more predictable in their offensive attack as they used the fast-paced hurry-up offence that they had used all year.football-sidebar

That offence kept the top ranked defence on their heels the entire game and prevented the Tide from using their biggest strength, depth on the defensive line, by not allowing substitutions.

Meanwhile their defence kept the Tide running around almost the entire game getting in the back field and doing a good job against Henry while keeping Jake Coker uncomfortable.

That defence forced the Tide to play a different type of game than they were used to but it was still effective.

Instead of their usual grinding style of running the ball and seeing Henry get better in the fourth quarter the Tide were forced to take advantage of the few mistakes made by the Tigers.

In all the Tide scored four of their five touchdowns with plays of 50-yards or more including a 50-yard run by Henry to open the scoring and two touchdowns to tight end O.J. Howard, one for 53 yards and the other for 51 yards.

It wasn’t the offence that the Tide had become used to but it was effective as it seemed to take something out of the Tigers every time.

Clemson continued their fast-paced offence successfully but still couldn’t pull away enough to put the game away.

Watson continued to put on a great performance but he was the only one doing anything having to make all of the plays himself.

That worked for a while but eventually the Tigers couldn’t keep it up against Alabama’s defence and the big play offence of the Tide helped to push the momentum to the side of Alabama.

Then the fourth quarter came and the Tide did what they had done all season and played their best football.

They kicked a field goal to tie the game at 24 then they recovered an onside kick that resulted in Howard’s second touchdown of the game.

After the Tigers kicked a field goal to reduce the lead Kenyan Drake returned the ensuing kickoff 95-yards for a touchdown that essentially sealed the game.

The Tide outscored the Tigers 24-16 in the fourth quarter and took their fifth national championship in the Saban era.

The loss for Clemson is a disappointment after a great season but with 17 potential returning starters including Watson who will enter his Junior year next year there is plenty of promise for the team.

For the Tide the dynasty continued and has only added to the debate of Saban matching the level of Bryant as the greatest coach in Alabama or NCAA history.

He is sure to put together another strong team next year and could return to the playoff for the third year in a row as the defending champions are sure to be favourites against as they remain the most dominant program of the era.


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