College Football Playoff Preview: Alabama

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Even though there are no Boston teams involved, the Boston Sports Syndicate is still heavy into the College Football Playoff.  Three members of our writing staff, plus a special guest, each took a team and gives you a breakdown of their chances to win it all.  In the final article in the series, the Syndicate's Matt Desrosiers gives you his take on the #1 seed Alabama Crimson Tide.

Photo courtesy of sobrosnetwork.com
I hope you have been reading all the CFB Playoff preview articles that have come from THE Syndicate.  If you haven’t checked them out yet, go back and read Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Clemson’s article before you finish this one.  Major shout out to Ryan, James, and Marc.  It was fun working together to highlight the entire playoff field and covering more than Boston sports.  But I think it is safe to say that the Boston Sports Syndicate saved the best college football team for last.   

For the record, the Crimson Tide is not my favorite football team, but I had the third overall pick in the CFB preview draft and selected 'Bama.  So now I will be rooting for Alabama whole-heartedly! Roll Tide!

I would like to switch things up a bit and give my predictions at the top of this article.  I’ll make my statements now and then explain why.  This weekend’s Orange Bowl will showcase the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Oklahoma Sooners.  Alabama’s strong defense and their surprisingly high octane offense versus one of the best offenses in the entire country, led by Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray.  This semifinal match-up will be a good tilt, but I predict that the Crimson Tide will defeat Oklahoma 38-17.  Alabama will then take on historic Notre Dame, and once again will prove to be the class of the college football landscape as they win the national title game 41-24.  That’s what I think will happen in this year’s CFB playoff - now here’s why…

The University of Alabama is a college football juggernaut.  Bama’s current reign of excellence may be the strongest program in college football history.  Since 2007, when Nick Saban took over as the head football coach, the Crimson Tide has won FIVE national championships.  In 2018, they will have a chance at number 6.  Alabama was awarded the number 1 seed in this year’s college football playoffs due to their 13-0 record AND their SEC championship victory.

Nick Saban is considered by many as one of the best college football coaches in the history of colleges and universities.  And colleges slash universities have been around a long long…long, long time.  Ever since he took over in Tuscaloosa, this program has been elite.  Being a head coach in college isn’t just about coaching on the field, it is also about having the ability to recruit the most talented high school players.  And Saban has been able to get the best high school football players to attend Alabama, and has the ability to coach them up to their best.  

I mentioned before Saban has won 5 national championships since his arrival, but he also has 6 SEC championships and has been the SEC coach of the year 3 times.  Whenever you have a coach of that caliber on your sideline, you will always have an advantage in your quest for a championship.  Oh…also he is a close personal friend of Bill Belichick.  So there is your link to Boston sports.

Saban isn’t the only elite coach on the Alabama staff.  Their offensive coordinator Mike Locksley is also one of the best in college football.  Locksley has been on the staff since 2016, but 2018 was his first as the lone offensive coordinator.  His ability to game plan and play call throughout a game has helped the Alabama offense produce at a rate that hasn’t been witnessed in this celebrated college program’s history.  Locksley was so good this year he won the Broyles Award. which is given to the nation’s top college football coaching assistant.  Unfortunately for the Crimson Tide, their offensive coordinator will be leaving to become the head coach of the University of Maryland’s football team, but they will have him for the playoffs, and that is a huge plus for Alabama. 

Alabama has some of the best coaches, sure, but they also have some of the best and most talented players in college.  If you watch the NFL on Sundays then there is a good chance you are familiar with some former Bama players.  Just last year alone this program had 12 players drafted to the pros, almost double that of the next team.  There were also a few Alabama players from the 2017 team that contributed in the NFL that weren’t even drafted.  I know a team’s past doesn’t necessarily mean they will succeed in the current season, but in Alabama’s case it might.  This year will not be any different.  You can expect to see a lot of Alabama players names called in next year’s draft. 

This team’s defense is one of the most talented in the country.  Littered with future first rounder draft selections, they constantly give the team a chance to win.  They are led by top end defenders like Quinnen Williams, Dionte Thompson, and Mack Wilson.  Alabama’s defense can shut anyone down, but they will have their hands full throughout the playoffs starting with the high powered Oklahoma offense.  

Bama’s defense doesn’t have to shut down the high flying offense from Oklahoma, just slow it down, because this year Alabama has a really good offense of their own.  Jerry Jeudy, Alabama’s top wide receiver, won the college award for the nation’s best wide out thanks to his 1,103 receiving yards and his 12 receiving touchdowns.  Jeudy is a dangerous aerial weapon for the Tide.  

If you are familiar with Alabama, than you probably know that they always have multiple good running backs.  This year they use 3 very talented players.  Damien Harris, Najee Harris, and Josh Jacobs all saw around 100 carries for this offense.  They combined for over 1,700 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns.  Once again the Crimson Tide had a ground attack that is as good as any team in college.  

You may be saying to yourself, “What else is new?” Well, this year Alabama also has a top end quarterback to lead this very skilled offense.  Tua Tagovailoa was the runner up to Oklahoma's Kyler Murray for the Heisman Trophy this year in a very close decision.  Some will argue that Tagovailoa should have won.  He threw for over 3300 yards and racked up 37 passing touchdowns.  Tua may be the best quarterback this program has seen in a very long time, and even if he isn’t 100% for the playoffs, you can bet he will produce for Alabama.  He has had plenty of time to heal and get himself ready to lead his team to another national championship.  I can’t wait to watch these two very highly skilled QB’s compete against one another in the semis. 

When it comes to the best of the best in college football, Alabama is the first program that comes to mind.  They have competed at a very high level for over 10 years.  This season they are the top seed in the playoffs, so it makes sense that they are the favorites, but it won’t come easy.  The playoff field is the strongest since the playoffs became a thing.  These four teams only have one loss combined, and that team has the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.  It will not be a smooth road for the Crimson Tide, but they are used to a tough schedule.  Alabama plays in the strongest conference in the country, the SEC, and they still dominate.  Thinking about it, it makes sense that I am rooting for the Tide considering they are basically the college version of the New England Patriots.  I fully expect them to win their last 2 games and hoist the championship trophy.  ROLL TIDE!

Follow me on Twitter @Matty_wests1de

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Boston Sports Syndicate: College Football Playoff Preview: Alabama
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