I spent my Sunday night watching the Collegiate Football NCAA National Championship football game. The Alabama Crimson Tide absolutely dominated the LSU Tigers 21-0 to win their second national championship in only three years. While this was arguably the worst final ever this game may have had the biggest impact on me of any college football game since Boise St.-Oklahoma. In fact, I may go as far as saying this game saved my faith in college football. Let me explain.
First, in the weeks leading up to the BCS National Championship I watched the many (too many) other Bowl games in the background on my TV every night. As usual, there were some very exciting games and some blowouts that were not worth the airtime they took up. A few games really stood out for me. Of course there was the good back and forth game between Stanford and Oklahoma State. In this high scoring (79 combined points) match the Cowboys ended up grabbing the win but there was a more important takeaway from this game. That being that Andrew Luck is the real deal. I had seen a game or two of his from earlier this season including one in which he was outplayed by Matt Barkley at USC but this game reestablished to me why this guy is going to be a star. 27/31 for 347, Luck was making throw after throw and throwing bullets while on the run and escaping pressure. In arguably the best bowl game this year, the biggest star that came out of it will be heading to the NFL next season.
While entertained by the Stanford game, there were really two games that stood out for me and had me thinking; West Virginia- Clemson and Baylor-Washington. These two games combined for 226 points scored. Let that sink in for a second. There was a combined 226 points scored by 4 teams in just 2 total games. That only comes out to a modest 56.5 points per team. I watched both these games and felt like I was watching a backyard shootout where my friends would let the other team score on defense just because they wanted to play offense the whole time. All four of these teams should be embarrassed by the way they played defense. It was as if each offensive team was playing a high school defense. While entertaining, I found myself quite upset with how bad the teams were. If a running back broke one tackle there was no secondary pressure, if a wide receiver caught a pass he went untouched for a touchdown and if the quarterback needed time, he had all day. I have always been a fan, though I have to admit, not a devout fan of college football but these two games actually made me think college football was stupid. Accross the nation, teams were scoring 50-60 points. I found myself thinking that college football is done, the game is stupid now. Thankfully I had the national championship game.
As mentioned, the complete dismantling of the #1 Tiger was a horrible game in which the Bama Tide, who I thought played better in both games, was rightfully crowned the national championship. Despite its shortcomings, this game reminded us of one thing; there are college football programs that play big-boy football. I am talking about teams that are solid top to bottom and know how to hit and play some defense. Don’t get me wrong, I love the high scoring games and always enjoy a shootout but football at its essence is a game of inches. If you don’t believe me then just listen to Al Pacino.
While losing 21-0 even LSU was able to show how it played defense. They may have given up some points and a lot of yards, but they also held Bama to 1 touchdown on 9 drives that got within their own 30 yard line. They were beaten but weren’t missing tackles left and right. And Bama’s defense need no explanation but I will give one anyway. They held the #1 team in the nation, albeit with a mediocre QB, to under 100 yards. The defense was absolutely shut down covering end-line to end-line. No LSU player got open or was able to break a run. It took the Tigers almost 55 minutes to cross the 50 yard line. This type of defense is unheard of. Watching the game I was honestly shocked by every first down the Tigers were able to gain. This defense gave up only 9 touchdowns all year. To give you perspective, there were two teams that scored 9 touchdowns in their respective bowl games this year. This can very arguably be called the greatest college football defense of all time. This overall defensive performance reminded me that there are college players out there that can play hardnosed football and are willing to fight for every single inch, “because that’s what football is!” So to the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the worst National Championship game in history. It made me love college football again.