A season that was played up to be a marathon to arrive at yet another title bout between Alabama and Clemson for the third time in four years has reached the final stretch. To the surprise of almost nobody, it’s Alabama and Clemson turning the final corner of the college football season for what could be another photo finish for the national championship.
Clemson booked their trip to Santa Clara next week with a complete dismantling of Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl semifinal game. A few hours later, Alabama knocked off Big 12 champion and Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray to reserve their ticket to the national championship game next week. Alabama and Clemson playing for it all has certainly become a regular occurrence, and it may be one that should historically be cherished for what it is- a display of consistent dominance demonstrated by two separate programs.
Alabama has certainly cemented their place in history with a rare college football dynasty of sorts. Winning national titles in two of the past three seasons and now with a chance to clinch a third national title in four years stands alone.
And if it were not for Alabama standing in the way, it would likely be Clemson laying a stake to their own claim as the top college football program in the nation with their own dynasty. It’s no coincidence these two programs have met in the playoff each of the past four seasons, including this season. After splitting two national championship games in the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Alabama dominated Clemson in a semifinal matchup last season. Now, Clemson looks to even the score.
Some will say dynasties ruin sports, and for some it will. Will a third national title matchup between Alabama and Clemson turn some casual fans off? It will undoubtedly, but as long as the game pulls a strong TV rating, ESPN will be perfectly happy with the result. What makes success on this level so challenging in college football is how often the roster continues to turn over. With only a small window to succeed with players that come in for three to four years, to be able to perform on such a high level is a testament to just how good a job Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney continue to do at their respective programs.
Maybe college football becomes boring to a casual fan that may not be interested in seeing two schools from the southeastern region of the United States doing battle once more for the big trophy. But the College Football Playoff is designed to pit the four best teams in the playoff, and Alabama and Clemson have made a routine of demonstrating it doesn’t matter because they’re the top two programs in the game today.
If the name of the game is to get the two best teams in the national championship game, it sure looks as though it will work out once again for the College Football Playoff. Funny how that works.