Roll Tide. 1
Patrick's Likes and Dislikes
Things I Liked
Clemson's swagger. At halftime, Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson said of Alabama: "them boys ain't good, bruh". This team was not defeated by the specter of Alabama football. They played like winners, and they lost with pride.
One of the pep bands played a song from the Les Mis musical! It was great.
There was an excellent Praying Mantis! Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture and a Google image search for "Alabama Clemson praying mantis" only led to me learning about how some praying mantis' look like orchids.2
Nick Saban, who, upon reaching the pinnacle of his profession for the fifth time and being doused in celebratory Gatorade by his ecstatic players, still managed to look grumpy as hell.
Clemson's heart. Alabama is physically bigger than most teams, Clemson included. If every game went for 120 minutes, Alabama would have a solid 6-year undefeated streak going. They wear opposing players down over the course of the game with their physicality. The hits add up. Close games begin to slip away, slowly at first, then more and more, until the tide inevitably takes over and causes its opponents to collapse. Alabama football is the heat death of the universe; it's coming, slowly, steadily, unavoidably.
But like David against Goliath, Clemson kept fighting. Alabama scored three touchdowns in the 4th quarter, and each was uniquely demoralizing. The first was a 51 yard bomb after a surprise onside kick, the second was a 95 yard kickoff return, and the third came with barely over a minute left on the clock. Each one of those would have been the soul-crushing-momentum-sealing-game-winning score against any other team. But each time, Clemson answered with a score of their own. It was awesome.
Speaking of that surprise onside kick...what the hell was with that surprise onside kick? The game was tied with about 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Saban displayed some serious Lesticles. The media would be killing him right now if they didn't recover that kick.
The scoreboard during the game didn't have the usual "1" and "2" in front of the team names to indicate their rankings. I liked that.
Things I Didn't Like
That Northrop Grumman commercial. It was cool. It had planes and we here at RR like planes.4 But what was the point? What were they selling? Did they expect me to watch that commercial and then decide to pre-order an LSR-B?
Clemson's special teams. The only unit that didn't play well, and it cost them the game.
Winners and Losers of the CFP Championship
Yes, Alabama won, and Clemson lost. But there were other winners and losers too.
Loser: Anyone who took the Under on the Score Total
Look, we don't blame you. This was looking like a low scoring game before it started. But the score Over/Under was 51. Actual score was 85. Which leads us to our next winner...
Winner: Anybody who Watched This Game
The Semifinals on New Year's Eve sucked. Both games were blowouts. One was a shutout. The ratings tanked, and apparently ESPN is suffering. The staff of the Ruddy Report threw a pizza party and forgot the games were even on. 7
But this game was fantastic! There were five lead changes, including Alabama overcoming a deficit in the 4th quarter. There was a lot of scoring! There wasn't bad officiating; the refs stayed out of the way and only called six penalties. There was only one turnover. There were five offensive touchdowns of 24 yards or more. There was an eye popping 95 yard kick return touchdown by Kenyan Drake.8 There was even a successfully recovered surprise onside kick in the 4th. Simply put, this game had everything.
Possible Loser: ESPN
With such a great game, one would think that ESPN comes away with the biggest win of the night. There's a wrinkle, however. Bleacher Report has the ratings for the game, and they're down. Not quite sure what that means. They note that the full viewership numbers aren't out yet. This might have something to do with the many alternate and digital ways that ESPN provided people with to watch this game, but it also might have to do with a growing number of cord cutters.
Winner: Deshaun Watson
Watson played really well: he went 30/47 for 405 yards passing, giving him 8.6 yards per attempt, four passing touchdowns, a team leading 73 rushing yards, and only one interception, which didn't seem to matter going into the locker room with the score tied at half time. 9 He put the team on his arm. He was obviously the best player on the field; the kid was electric. Watson's stock is only rising. Cousin Sal put it best:
Great game. Silver lining for Clemson superstar QB Deshaun Watson - he can't be drafted by the Browns this year. #notyeteligible— Cousin Sal (@TheCousinSal) January 12, 2016
Look out, Jared Goff!
The Vegas favorite won, but not by enough. Clemson had a back-door-cover late in the game, and this was good for casinos. Says Ed Salmons, to ESPN:
It was enormous for us. It's just like the Super Bowl. You want the favorite to win because there are a lot of underdog bets on the money line, but you don't want them to cover the spread. So it worked out perfectly for us.
That's right, you degenerates. This game lost most of you money.
After the debacle that was the Steelers-Bengals game this weekend, this game was a joy to watch. Both teams were composed, both teams fought hard, both teams played a clean game. Instead of attacking each other's organizations, Saban and Swinney made a friendly wager on the game. This is what happens when you have solid coaching and leaders of men on the field-these college "boys" conducted themselves with a whole lot more maturity and class than the "men" in the aforementioned NFL organizations.
Kashev Checks in on RR Over-Unders
Derrick Henry Rushing Yards: 200
Actual: 158. Hope you took the under, folks! The announcers took note of how they did not expect Clemson's defensive line to be so dominant in this game.10 But, there was one big play that really bolstered Henry's numbers:
Number of times Deshaun Watson is sacked: 3
Actual: Only 2. Watson put up a hell of a fight in this game. There were several times that I thought that he was going to get sacked, but instead turned it into a large gain:11
Kinda seeing flashes of Russell Wilson here. I'm always skeptical of these running quarterbacks in college. But one of them is going to pan out in the NFL like Russell Wilson unquestionably has, and I think Watson is probably a good bet. Not a great bet. Not a bet I'd take, since nobody knows how to draft QBs. But a good bet.
Number of times Alabama is referred to as a "dynasty": 2
Actual: 2. This was a really late push. Right as the post-game transitioned into SportsCenter with SVP, Herbstreit got it in, even putting them above the Belichick Patriots. Then ESPN trotted out a DYNASTY graphic, 12 which means the entire thing was premeditated. Disgusting.
Number of times the Star Wars Imperial March will be heard despite no obvious source of the music when Nick Saban strolls the sideline: 3.5
Actual: 1! I heard it! It was obviously coming from the band. Not sure which one though. I imagine Darth Saban has banned the Bama Band from playing it, though.
Number of times the term "Clemsoning" is used: 1
Actual: Zero. Proud of ESPN. This was not Clemsoning. This was a damn good game. Also Dabo might have actually unhinged his jaw and eaten Heather Cox whole if she mentioned any crap like that.
Number of times Kirby Smart's new job is mentioned: 1.5
Actual: 1 at the end of the broadcast. A bunch in the 72 hours of CFP Championship coverage on ESPN leading up to the game. But only once in the broadcast.
Actual: No idea. Didn't see any. Could have happened though.
Number of times Nick Saban smiles: 1.5
Actual: 3!!! So here's the one we knew was coming, the money shot:
Here's one we had no idea was coming, right after an onside kick, courtesy of SB Nation: And here's one that was basically extorted. Since when does Nick Saban smile on command? Somebody needs to reboot him or something.
Dabo Swinney Crying: 0.5
Actual: 0. We're ashamed we thought of this one. Dabo will be back next year, and he'll be hopping mad. He's already at the top of ESPN's Way Too Early Top 25. Other notable team positions include Alabama at #2, RR favorite Michigan at #4, Stanford down at #8, 13 and Houston up at #10, ahead of Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oregon, and TCU. Not so sure about that one, ESPN.
Number of minutes of this game you actually have to watch: 30
Actual: 59! As we mentioned above, this was a really, really, really good game. Almost made up for the piss-poor semifinal round.
Number of times Dabo Swinney says something as epic as "Bring Your Own Guts": 0
Actual: 0. Only some criticism of the refs, and a lot of disappointment. Let us know in the comments if we missed something here.
Number of times announcers compare Jake Coker to A.J. McCarron: 1.5
Actual: 0. ESPN doesn't compare winners to losers. Instead, they talked about how much Coker 'has been through'. 14 Same vein of empty sports talk. If you took the over on this one, you should have won some money.
Number of Defeat Cobras shown: 2
Actual: I don't know, I just saw the only one I needed to see, and snapped a picture of my parent's TV. College Football is a cruel mistress.
Number of Alabama victories: 1
Actual: 1. A push. As predicted.
Amount of speculation about Saban leaving Alabama for the NFL or retirement between now and his winning another National Championship with Alabama in 2017: ∞
Actual: Not too Much!15 Rece Davis and Kirk Herbstreit talked about Nick Saban "staying hungry" and thus "staying fed". Paul Finebaum mentioned how Saban is 64, has a family in Tuscaloosa, is a grandfather now, and is not likely to make a move. I bet he wants to win one or two more at Alabama to beat out Bear Bryant as the GOAT college football coach. Also, Chuck Pagano didn't get fired, so the RR dream of a Saban/Luck led Colts are kaput. What are the odds Andrew Luck not winning more Super Bowl rings than Peyton? Can we bet on that?
For all you NFL fans out there-the clock is actually supposed to stop after a first down. ↩
It's not what you're thinking. Okay, I guess it is. ↩
I have no way to Google for this graphic. I wish I could, but I do not know the words. ↩
Yeah, I didn't watch that video either. ↩
There was a grace period during the actual broadcast, but it's starting now. First, people figured out that Saban is not ready to retire, then the Bucs apparently thought for some reason that they have the clout to consider Saban, leading some to decide that they should break the bank for him. But everyone knows that Saban will never leave Bama. ↩