By: Monte Perez
Throughout the course of history, the most intriguing matchup in sports have been power vs. speed or the puncher vs. the boxer. We have seen this with Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier and George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran and Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield.
We have also seen this in movies as well, in Rocky III Clubber Lang (a bruising puncher) forced Rocky to change his style and become a boxer. Art also imitated life in the Movie Cinderella Man, James J. Braddock fought Max Baer. The National Championship Game between Number #2 Alabama and #1 Clemson is the classic matchup between power and speed.
Nick Saban is looking for his for his 5th National Championship (1 with LSU and 3 with Alabama) and Dabo Swinney is looking to capture his first. This is “old school” ground and pound vs “the millennials” and a spread offense, that comes at you like tidal wave. Both teams want to wear you down and impose their will. With 2 minutes gone in the 3rd quarter of the National Championship semi-fina, I Tweeted, “Oklahoma is done, they are gassed against this Clemson offense, 2 minutes into the 2nd half. The Tigers won the game 37-17, and it wasn’t that close. Alabama defeated Michigan State 38-0 and again, it wasn’t that close. Michigan State tried to beat Bama at their strength, by running the ball and being physical. This is like trying to outpunch Mike Tyson, it is not going to happen. Les Miles is on the hot seat at LSU because he tries to beat the Crimson Tide with running the ball and great defense. It never works against Saban because he has mastered that style.
Most experts have already crowned Alabama the National Champion but as long time College Game Day Host Lee Corso says, “Not so fast my friend!”
The only time Bama played a legitimate offense and defense this year they lost to Ole Miss 43-37. They played a Florida team in the SEC Championship game who couldn’t score points. Michigan State proved they did not belong in the Semi Finals. Now, Let us look at Clemson. The Tigers are the only team in College Football that defeated 5 teams that were ranked in the top 10.
In order for their teams to win, Heisman Trophy Winner (RB),Derrick Henry (2,061 rushing yards, 5.7 yards per carry and 25 touchdowns) and Heisman Trophy Runner-Up, (QB)Deshaun Watson (3,699 passing yards, 31 passing touchdowns and 12 interceptions) have got to be the best player on the field. Henry wants to run over you (Power) and Watson wants to beat you with speed and finesse. Watson is the 3rd player in the history of college football to throw for over 3,500 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season. He has also rushed for over 100 yards in 4 out of Clemson’s last 5 games.
Nick Saban is the greatest coach in the history of College Football. To win four Championships in an era where everyone is leaving early to go pro is a phenomenal accomplishment. But,If you look at history… in these colossal matchups, speed usually beats power. I see the same thing happening here. I think Clemson is tailor-made to beat Alabama. The Tigers are winning now but they are built for the future. They are the 3rd youngest team in the country and they played 28 freshman this year. My only concern would be the Tigers Youth and Swinney “over coaching” in the biggest game of his career. I don’t think that will happen. Since week 4, I have written that Clemson is the best team in the country. Nothing has changed my mind!.Their style will give Bama all they can handle. To quote Apollo Creed from Rocky III, “If you stand toe-to-toe with this bum, he’ll kill you. It doesn’t take a man to stand there and get your head beat off…! He’s just a man, Rock, so be MORE man than him! Go get him; Eye Of the Tiger!” Dabo is the most likeable coach in college football. The Clemson Tigers win this game 41-33.
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