There were 5 game changing moments for me Monday Night in Clemson’s 44-16 national championship victory over the Crimson Tide.
Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell’s 44 yard pick 6 off a Tua Tagovailoa pass on Alabama’s opening offensive possession.
Jedrick Willis’s false start when Alabama had the ball 1st and goal at the 1 in the first quarter and the Tide could only get a field goal out of the drive.
The failed fake field goal on 4th and 6 in the third quarter which should have been a go for it with Tua and the receivers.
Tua getting stopped short of the first down line on a scramble in the 3rd quarter on 4th and 6.
And finally, the play call to run Tua around the left side on 4th and goal at the 4 in the 4th quarter.
It was just Cemson’s night in Santa Clara. Trevor Lawrence, the great Justyn Ross, from Central-Phenix City, Travis Etienne, Tee Higgins, Mitch Hyatt and the offensive line and Christian Wilkins and the defense were not going to be denied. Dabo, defensive coordinator Brent Venables, co offensive coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott and the entire Clemson coaching staff had a masterful plan and coached a flawless game.
So they need to be applauded. But the Crimson Tide will be back in 2019 with a chip on their shoulder and a lot of talent to go along with that with Tua, who is still a stellar quarterback, Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Henry Ruggs III and Irv Smith, he’s a junior but he should be back, an offensive line that will have talent led by Alex Leatherwood and Willis, and a defense that will need to fill some holes up front, but Dylan Moses will return at linebacker and maybe Mac Wilson will return, he’s a junior. The secondary is young led by Deionte Thompson, and there is a lot of young talent, so the Tide should be pretty stout back there next season. The 2019 signing class in No.1 in the country, so talent is coming Tuscaloosa’s way. And S is angry. He found that unacceptable, so the players will be trained extremely hard this winter by Scott Cochran and be ready for the spring.
Vegas already has the Crimson Tide as 1:1 favorites to win it all in 2019. Clemson is 3:1. I like Bama and Clemson in the playoff next season along with Georgia, which has 69 percent of their team as freshmen and sophomores. Ohio State, particularly if Justin Fields is eligible to play, will be right there, along with Oklahoma, which just brought in a 5 star quarterback, and is in the Jalen Hurts sweepstakes among many others including Houston, where Dana Holgerson takes over coming from West Virginia and he’s a coach who knows how to develop quarterbacks even further. TCU is in it. All the Texas schools are maybe not Texas as much as they are set at quarterback for a couple of years. UCLA with Chip Kelly is in the mix, too. So it’ll be interesting to see where Jalen ends up though I know Crimson Tide fans are sorry to see him leave. He’s been an awesome representative of the football program and the university. Class act.
My sleeper teams for the playoff are LSU, with O and Joe back, Florida, Dan Mullen has it cookin in Gainesville, and Texas, coming off their upset of Georgia in the Sugar Bowl and Tom Herman having an excellent team coming back led by quarterback Sam Ellinger.
So 2019 isn’t far away. We’re only 2 1/2 months from spring football cranking up, there’s still some recruiting to be done, and college basketball looks pretty interesting with Alabama, Auburn and UAB fielding good squads. Though the Crimson Tide and Tigers lost last night, they look solid. The Crimson Tide had a tremendous 77-75 victory last Saturday over Kentucky. That tells me this team is for real. A very talented group of players. The awesome Tevin Mack and super freshman point guard Kira Lewis Jr. are key players. Auburn had a tough time last night in Oxford, but the talent is apparent and they’’re right in the SEC and national mix to excel. Jared Harper and Bryce Brown lead a super talented Auburn basketball team. UAB is 2-0 in C-USA and looks like they have a shot to make the NCAA tourney. So great stuff going on this winter and spring.
I know Auburn fans were encouraged by the Tigers’ 63-14 dismantling of Purdue in the Music City Bowl. The Tigers looked great. There’s a lot of talent returning though a quarterback will have to step up in the spring. Redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood, a 6’5”, 235 pound talent, incoming 5 star Bo Nix, and Malik Willis will compete in the spring. Nix is a major talent and Gatewood was a high 4 star out of high school. Those look like the 2 competitors for the starting job. There are some good underclassmen returning and a pretty solid signing class coming in, so the Tigers should be a lot better. Gus will call plays, so that could make a difference as well.
Spectacular 2018 and 2019 looks just as promising. It’ll be here soon. Meanwhile, there’s college basketball, PGA Tour cranking up, the Australian Open coming up in professional tennis, the season’s first Grand Slam event, and the NBA and the NHL which will also be interesting especially when the playoffs crank up. So looking forward to a stellar 2019.
Regular Season: 229-72, 76%
Overall: 250-90, 74%
NFL Divisional Rounds predictions
The National Football League is electric right now with week 2 of the playoffs cranking up on Saturday and continuing into Sunday. Here’s a look at this weekend’s 4 games along with predictions.
Last week: 2-2
Indianapolis Colts (11-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
Arrowhead Stadium, 76, 416
3:35 PM CT
Al, Cris, Michelle
Lead Ref, John Hussey
Chiefs by 5 1/2
I’m really starting to trust Andrew Luck. He completed 19 of 32 passes for 222 yards, 2 TDs against 1 interception last Saturday in the Colts 21-17 upset of the Houston Texans in Houston. I like Luck, receiver T.Y. Hilton, running back Marlon Mack, an awesome offensive line anchored by former Alabama center Ryan Kelly and former Auburn offensive guard and Indy right tackle Braden Smith, and a stellar defense to go into Kansas City and pull off the upset.
Colts 30, Chiefs 27
Dallas Cowboys (11-6) @ Los Angeles Rams (13-3)
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 78,467
7:15 PM CT
Joe, Troy, Erin, Chris Myers
Laundry, John Parry
Rams by 7
I like Dak, Zeke, Amari and an awesome defense that was 6th in the league in scoring defense at 20.3 to go into LA and upset the Rams. Rams are 20th in the league in scoring defense at 24.5. Like them Cowboys. Jerry moves on to the NFC Championship.
Cowboys 31, Rams 28
Los Angeles Chargers (13-4) @ New England Patriots (11-5)
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., 66,829
12:05 PM CT
Jim, Tony, Trace, Jay
Stripes, Ron Torbert
Patriots by 4
The Patriots are 8-0 at home this season. Like Brady over Philip Rivers. Rivers is 0-7 against Brady lifetime but I look for him to play well and the Pats to barely win.
Patriots 28, Chargers 27
Philadelphia Eagles (10-7) @ New Orleans Saints (13-3)
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, 74,295
3:40 PM CT
Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver, Pter Schrager
Laundry, Carl Cheffers
Saints by 8
Like the great Drew Brees and the Saints to move on and host the NFC Championship game a week from Sunday in Who Dat Country. Nick Foles is spectacular and the Eagles are resilient and tough defending champions after going into Chicago last Sunday and upsetting the Bears, but I’ll take my chances with Drew and the Saints.