In my lifetime, I have seen the College Football National Championship Game take many forms. At the beginning of my life, we had the Bowl Coalition, which was simply an agreement between the top bowls to try and pit the top two teams against each other, creating a national champion. It was replaced in 1995 by the Bowl Alliance, which was similar, but rotated the “Championship Game” among three bowls, the Sugar, Orange, and Fiesta. This was eventually replaced in 1998 by the BCS National Championship Game, which officially denoted a national championship game among the top four bowls, including the Rose Bowl this time. In 2006, it changed yet again, establishing a separate national championship game that rotated between the four bowl locations. 2014 gave us the College Football Playoffs, the system where the top four teams enter a playoff to establish a winner-takes-all national championship.
The reasoning behind all of this change was the pursuit for a true champion. Since the early 1900s, college football has seen the need to crown a national champion. However, there continued to be debate between teams near the top, especially when the top teams never played each other. Even with the evolution of these systems, there continues to be controversy. Most notorious was the 2003 season, where the Coach’s Poll named USC their national champion after LSU won the BCS National Championshp Game. However, while many cry that the college football championship process still needs work, it is clear that there are times when we arrive at an undisputed national champion.
Such was the case last night, as Clemson became the first team since 1897 to finish the season 15-0. Coming into the game, the Tigers were underdogs against a Crimson Tide team looking for their third national championship in the last four years. The Tigers, however, didn’t get the memo. The first points on the board did not come from Alabama, nor did it come from heralded Clemson freshman QB Trevor Lawrence. Instead, it came from the Clemson defense, as A.J. Terrell stepped in front of a Tagovailoa pass and took it 44 yards to the house. After Bama tied the game with a long Tagovailoa pass to Biletnikoff winner Jerry Jeudy, Clemson marched down the field and punched it in on a Travis Etienne run. The first quarter scoring ended with a short touchdown pass from Tagovailoa, but the extra point was missed, making the score 14-13.
Alabama made a field goal in the second quarter to make it 16-14, but that would be the end of their scoring. Two more scores from Etienne and a field goal made the score 31-16 at the end of the half. The third quarter showcased Clemson’s future, as freshmen Trevor Lawrence and Justyn Ross connected on two one-handed catches and a 74 yard touchdown. Another touchdown pass from Lawrence to Tee Higgins ended the scoring, making the final score 44-16. Clemson is the first team since Coach Saban came to Alabama in 2007 to beat his team by more than 14 points. The only thing worse for Alabama fans is who was making all of the big plays last night:
QB Trevor Lawrence- 347 yards passing, 3 TDs- Freshman
RB Travis Etienne- 86 yards rushing, 3 total TDs- Sophomore
WR Justyn Ross- 153 yards receiving, 1 TD- Freshman
WR Tee Higgins- 81 yards receiving, 1 TD- Sophomore
DB A.J. Terrell- 8 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TD- Sophomore
In other words, all of Clemson’s touchdowns scored last night were scored by players who will be back next season. Clemson looked dominant last night, but there is nothing to suggest that they will be slowed down in the future, either.
Here at the Strong Rock office, we had an outright winner as well. Trip picked so well that the last few games haven’t mattered, as none of us had an opportunity to beat her. Also, Scoot felt sorry for Leo and lost a few so he could save face. The bottom doesn’t seem too bad when you have someone to commiserate with.
1st- Trip (28-13)
2nd- Sprinkles, Stride (25-16)
4th- Rambo (24-17)
5th- Leo, Scoot (22-19)
Speaking of true champions, we have one this year. Congratulations to Mike Barnhouse, who finished the season 29-12, beating the Strong Rock staff and all challengers. He also wins 15% off camp tuition, some Outpost goodies, and 2000 points towards the Honor of the Warrior award for the Awahili Tribe! Zachary Godfrey also tied Trip, but lost in the head-to-head score tiebreaker. And it was a close loss too!
1st- Mike Barnhouse (29-12)
2nd- Zachary Godfrey (28-13)
3rd- Cricket (27-14)
We hope you enjoyed our contest, as well as our ramblings about the games. We love getting to interact with our camp family outside of camp, and it makes watching some of these potentially dull games that much more exciting!
1. Only 20.75% of contestants chose Clemson as their national champion. Oh we of little faith!
2. Several of you tried hard, maybe too hard. We can tell from the time spent on the survey. Doug Markott spent 39 minutes, 22 seconds, though George Pelekis topped him with 49 minutes, 54 seconds. They finished with 26 and 25 wins, respectively.
3. Taking a long time doesn’t equate to more success, however, as we think Libby Pittman fell asleep at her computer while picking. While she finished with 25 wins, no one topped her 1 hour, 2 minutes, 40 seconds of time spent picking bowl winners.
4. Our winner, Mike Barnhouse, only took 8 minutes and 26 seconds, which was only 2 seconds off the average time spent. At least Mike didn’t outsmart himself.
5. Michael “Cricket” Barre was our top former staffer at 27 wins.
“The combo of Tua and Hurts is unbeatable.”- Trip
Apparently this is only the case for Georgia, as Clemson had no problem handling both talented QBs from Tuscaloosa.
Till next year,