2017 National Championship Preview

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The National Championship is here but the final game of the NCAA season looks very familiar to one played only a year ago.

That would be because the exact same teams from a year ago are back in the National Championship looking to be crowned the best team in the league.

A year ago the roles were somewhat reversed as the Alabama Crimson Tide were the #2 team in the country losing one game all year.

They came into the game with some questions as they had lost a game and some thought they may not be as dominant as they had been for years.

A year after losing in the semi-finals there were some who thought that they still wouldn’t be able to find a national championship in the second year.

That was because they were facing the #1 team in the nation, the Clemson Tigers, who had run through everyone with their great offence led by one of the best quarterbacks in the game.

The Tigers had, for years, been that team that looked good but just couldn’t win the big game during the season to get a top ranking.

They finally did it and found themselves in the biggest game hoping to capture only their second national championship.

It turned out that the Tide were just as good as they had been since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa.

The game was a good one though as the Tigers gave the Tide everything they could handle with Watson playing at an extremely high level.

The Tide’s defence couldn’t stop him completely and heading into the fourth quarter both teams were tied at 24 points each.

The Tide then put up another 24 points in the final quarter while their defence stood up just enough allowing only 16 points in the fourth.

The Tide took the win for another National Championship and remained the most dominant team of the last decade.

Now entering the 2017 National Championship the same match-up is here except that the story is slightly different.

This time around the Tide are the top team and instead of wondering if they are vulnerable for the first time in a long time the question is who can stop them.

They are one of only two undefeated teams this year and they did it in a Power Five conference.

The Tide were dominant throughout the year and almost nobody was talking about them because every game was really just business as usual.

They went from start to finish as the top team in the rankings and never faltered making them quick favourites for the National Championship.football-sidebar

The Tigers were also a great team but they did drop a game and at one point in the season, they weren’t necessarily the team that many people thought could win the national title.

They were the best offence in the league and they went through the entire league almost unscathed.

They easily got past the Ohio State Buckeyes with an impressive defensive performance that allowed no points in the semi-finals.

It was a performance that not many expected but their easy win got them a chance at revenge that not many people would believe they could win.

They had to go in against an Alabama team that might just be better than a year ago and they would need to beat them if they wanted to get that elusive title.

There is no doubt that the Tigers are the underdogs in this game as everyone is looking at the Tide and believing they are the team that nobody can beat.

The pressure is off of the Tigers this time and they did give the Tide a tough run last year as they hope to do the same this time around.

It will be a challenge as the Tide come into the game with defence and a running game along with a more dynamic QB than they have had in the past.

The Tigers counter with a very good offence led by the QB that many thinks will be the top pick in next year’s draft along with a great pass rush.

If the Tigers can get the upset they will certainly shock the college world as this game is essentially Alabama’s to lose.

Then again there are those that look at last year and see that the Tigers might be the team that can actually challenge the Tide.

They will need to be near perfect to do so but not much is left for a lot of these players and if there was a time to play the best game it is now.

The rematch is set and the Tigers have hopes on some revenge that will also make them the best team in the country for the first time in 1981.

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What is there left to say about the Tide, they are simply the most dominant team in the country over the last decade. They are the team that everyone aspires to and that has everything to do with how Nick Saban has built his environment. Everything about it is old school and despite the trend to change, Saban has stayed with this old school approach. It is an approach where it is the Alabama way or no way as people fit into the way Saban runs things or they don’t go to Alabama. It has worked only because it has been successful as players are will to be the silent players and simply do their job. It has ensured sustained success as the Tide have been among the top-ranked teams since Saban has taken over and this year they were once again on top of the rankings when things were done and it was all because of the system with one slight change. That change is under centre as Jalen Hurts is not necessarily the quarterback the Saban is used to having led his team. He has the ability to make something out of nothing and through that ability he has been one of the top players this year. He still needs to work on his passing prowess but the freshman is still learning and getting better. What he lacks for in those passing skills he more than makes up for in his ability to run the ball and put up points earning a total of 34 touchdowns for the Tide. Their QB has never been their biggest and best player though as it has almost always run to the rushing game and Hurts is a big part of that along with Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough who ran for 180 yards in the semi-final. Of course, the offence is a big part of their game but the defence has always been the biggest and this year they are at the top of the rankings again. The Tide have made their way through the great defences they have put together and is all starts up front. They allowed a league-low 824 yards on the ground while their passing defence has not been as dominant but still great. That is the key to their season and it will be the key to their national championship run this year. They will get their biggest test aver against the best offence in the league as they have to try to figure out Deshaun Watson. Just like last year, Watson can present some issues for a team that focuses on making teams one-dimensional. That one dimension is all that Clemson has had as they do not have the running game to carry the team. Figuring out Watson is going to be the difference but for one of the best defences in the league, it is a task that they can figure out.

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Last year the Tigers were supposed to be the giant slayers in beating the Tide to make sure they didn’t sit on top of the league again. They couldn’t get it done though as their failures on defence could not be made up by their potent offence. They head back into the national championship looking to do what many wanted them to do last year. It won’t be easy but for the Tigers and others, it might be more than just a game. It is a clash of attitudes as Saban is the strict system guy while Dabo Sweeny is the “Be yourself” adjustment type of coach. Whereas Saban finds players to fit into his system Sweeny fits his system to the players he has. That has turned out to be successful in recent years as his talent level increases with each recruiting class. Sweeny has been the type of coach to let the players be themselves and then when it is time to get to work he makes sure they do that. It has led to a much more exciting way to play and although it has yet to win a National Championship the Tigers continue to be a real threat every year. The biggest part of that threat is the quarterback as Deshaun Watson has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league over the last two years. After bringing the Tigers to the national championship last year he immediately became a favourite for the 2017 NFL Draft. It was a lot of pressure but he remained at the same level as a year ago. With Watson leading the way the Tigers were the best offence in the league although a lot of that greatness came through the air rather than on the ground. The Tigers couldn’t get a running game going as well as they could last year but Wayne Gallman has been good enough to give them somewhat of a balance. Alongside Watson’s running ability it is enough to show two different ways of getting yards but there is no doubt that the passing game is what leads this offence. With Watson throwing to top receivers like Mike Williams and Artavis Scott plus much more it is not easy to shut down the passing game. That game is what drives this team but they do have some impressive defensive players as well. Much like the Tide their defence runs through their line that loves to get pressure and totalled 49.0 total sacks this season. That line needs to get to the quarterback for this team to be successful and so far they have done just that especially in the semi-final where the line led a devastating rush that helped to shut out the Buckeyes. If they can do the same to the Tide and make Hurts beat them even with his great abilities it might be the answer. The same strategy was what the Huskies tried to do to Alabama but the running game burst out for almost 200 yards. The Tigers might have a better ability to do that but it isn’t going to be easy trying to figure out the most dominant team of the decade.

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