Does it get any better than college football folks? After a weekend where we were subject to watching the likes of Connor Cook and Matt Moore try and win playoff games, we sure needed that. We needed a reminder as to why this great country of ours calls this game our own, and we sure got that on Monday night. The vast majority of this article is going to focus primarily on my biggest takeaway from last night and what it means for the future of college football. However, here’s a couple bullets right off the bat.
First and foremost: Dabo Swinney, take a bow. In a matter of nine days that man officially declared himself Urban Meyer’s daddy and he beat the greatest college football coach of all time. Listen to how crazy this is. Coming in to that game on Monday night, Nick Saban was 12-1 in Championship games, 7-1 in SEC Championship games, and 5-0 in National Championships. Just an unbelievable job by Dabo Swinney. I always thought Dabo hung around the 7-10 area in terms of best college football coaches, but boy did I underestimate him. Go ahead, Dabo. Right in my face, do it right in my face.
Number two: Ummmm Heisman Committee, what were you thinking?! Deshaun Watson is without a doubt the best player in the country. Over 400 yards in the air and 4 total touchdowns against THAT defense? Sure there were times where it looked like Reuben Foster and Co decapitated Watson, but what a show he put on. To play from behind the entire game and just keep pounding the way he did, what a player. The only downside about that last drive is that he may have just completely altered the Cleveland Browns draft plans, and he may in fact be headed to Northeast Ohio. If that’s the case, then enjoy this one while it lasts Deshaun. Because come tomorrow, it’s time to get ready for Cleveland baby!
Now, let’s switch gears. What’s the biggest takeaway from last night?
You can look at that game a lot of different ways. You can talk about the job that Dabo did, you can talk about Bo Scarbrough getting hurt and the whole Sarkisian / Kiffin storyline, and you can talk about Brent Venables’s defense having a tremendous game plan for Jalen Hurts. But that entire game boils down to one thing: Deshaun Watson.
Play along with me here for a minute. Alabama has won 4 of the last 8 National Championships. Let’s focus on those 4 years that they didn’t win it. One of those years was because of the single greatest play in Iron Bowl history that happened in Auburn. So, there’s one year Saban doesn’t win it all because of the “Kick Six”, a play that will be considered one of the most unbelievable plays in college football history. Another one of those years was because he ran in to Cam Newton, another one was because he ran in to Ezekiel Elliott, and then of course, last night.
So, just a quick review. Prior to last night, the only reason Nick Saban and Alabama did not win the National Championship is because of the “kick six”, Cam Newton, former Heisman trophy winner and reigning NFL MVP, and Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the 2016-2017 NFL MVP, or at bare minimum NFL Rookie of the Year. Let that soak in for a second. Before last night, Saban may have only been stopped by back-to-back NFL MVP’s.
Having said that, what does that say about Deshaun Watson? To beat Nick Saban it takes a generational talent. Deshaun Watson’s performance put him in extremely elite company last night if you truly think about it. My biggest takeaway from last night’s game is that Deshaun Watson could be one of the most underrated players in the last decade in college football. The guy got absolutely no love this year, taking a back seat to guys like Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield all season long. It takes one hell of a football player to do what he did last night, and it’s time we start recognizing Deshaun Watson for who he really is. Do I think Deshaun Watson is going to be a good professional quarterback? I honestly have no idea. But, if what he did last night is any indication, he sure is on the right path.
What happened last night, and against Ohio State, and against Auburn once upon a time, opened Pandora’s Box as to how you beat Alabama. Quick head’s up guys, Alabama is going absolutely nowhere. Want to know who Nick Saban won championships with 4 times in the last 8 years? Greg McElroy, AJ McCarron, and Jake Coker. There are 10-15 of those guys in every single recruiting class. I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet he’s going to win at least one with Jalen Hurts folks. You want to beat them? Find yourselves a top 2-3 talent in the country and develop him within your program. Take a look around, I think there are a couple of guys out there right now with that potential.
- Sam Darnold, USC: Did you watch the Rose Bowl? That guy is an assassin.
- Deondre Francois, FSU: What beats Saban? Mobile quarterbacks. Let this kid develop a little bit more and lookout.
- JT Barrett, OSU: JT will be back for his 7th year in Columbus next Fall, so that’s got to count for something.
- Baker Mayfield, OKLA: *See JT Barrett analysis above* Also, these moves have to count for something.
And then you have a couple guys like Saquon Barkley at Penn State and Lamar Jackson at Louisville. All these guys, if they develop and mature properly, have the potential to beat Nick Saban. You want to beat Alabama, find yourself a Cam Newton, Ezekiel Elliott, or Deshaun Watson, good luck!
So that’s my big takeaway from last night. The landscape does not change all that much, and Alabama will still be the team to beat every year as long as Nick Saban is at the helm. Last night was about admiring how good Deshaun Watson is, and what an unbelievable college football career he’s had. Really tough guy to root against, and I hope he turns out to be a very good quarterback on Sunday’s. So with that, we say goodbye to college football for a little bit. So just sit back, relax, and grind through February until March Madness. Or, you could be like me, and turn all of your attention to these two beauties. God Bless