Randy Smith: I Told You So

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - by Randy Smith
Last week I predicted it would be an all-SEC National Championship Game and I was right. Georgia nipped Oklahoma in two overtimes while Alabama dominated Clemson defensively and both teams advance to Monday's big showdown in Atlanta. Note that I said Alabama dominated Clemson defensively which they did.
The Crimson Tide held the Tigers to less than 200 yards of offense and just a pair of field goals in a 24-6 victory. 'Bama exposed the Tigers problems on offense, mainly junior quarterback Kelly Bryant's inability to react quickly enough to make big plays. It was obvious from the first quarter on that Bryant is no DeShaun Watson. The Tigers who ran almost 100 plays a year ago in beating Alabama for the 2016 national crown spent much more time on the sidelines watching as the Tide offense did just enough to win in a game that was dominated by the two defensive units.  

While Alabama was exposing Clemson's weaknesses on offense, Clemson was doing the same thing to the Tide's offense. The Tigers were showing Georgia how to attack Jaylen Hurts and the Tide offense and I'm sure that Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart has been taking it all in. 

Coach Smart who is a defensive guru himself, watched his Georgia squad tip-toe through the first half against against Oklahoma, trailing the Sooners 31-17 at halftime. Smart made the right adjustments at the break and they were able to outscore Oklahoma 37-17 in the second half and two overtime periods for the win. The second half was all Georgia thanks to a few defensive adjustments. In 'Bama's win over the Tigers it was the defensive game plan put together by Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt that made the difference. That game plan and overall defensive performance by Alabama caused a lot of Tennessee fans to sing Pruitt's praises because he becomes Tennessee's new head coach full time after Monday night's game.

It did give Vols' fans a lot of hope for a new look in Big Orange Country for next season. Jeremy Pruitt is cut from the same cloth as Kirby Smart, as both are disciples of Nick Saban, and both served as defensive coordinators under Saban before getting their first head coaching jobs. Pruitt who showed a lot of class by sticking with his commitment to Alabama through the college football playoffs is turning out to be a much better choice for the Volunteers than we first realized. 

Having two SEC teams battle it out for the National Championship is great for the SEC but I'm not sure how good it is for college football in general. We now have UCF sitting on the outside looking in with a perfect 14-0 record while a pair of SEC teams, each with one loss plays for the title. Also remember that Auburn is the team that beat both Alabama and Georgia and UCF beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl on New Years afternoon. If there was any scenario that screams for an expanded playoff format this is most certainly it. 

While tickets for Monday's National Championship Game are going for in excess of $2000 each, I will be in my man-cave watching on my big screen TV , sitting by the fire and being thankful that I am not in that mess at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, fighting the crowd. Age tends to do that to you. By the way, my prediction for the game is:  Georgia 27 Alabama 21. Hunker down you Hairy Dogs!  


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