THE TALON

College Football Update Championship Recap

Nate Shirley, Staff Writer

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Roll Tua! This lefty phenom from Hawaii has burst onto the college football scene in a huge way by leading the Crimson Tide to the National Championship title after being subbed in at halftime. Tua  Tagovailoa was the highest ranked dual threat quarterback of the 2017 recruiting class and he came into this season as Nick Saban’s backup plan if sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts went down with an injury. With one half of football, he has launched himself into stardom with a stellar second half to lead the Crimson Tide to yet another national title  after a lackluster first half performance by year-long starter Jalen Hurts. Tagovailoa comes into camp as the favorite to win the job next year, and it is very possible that Hurts will hit the transfer market, where the favorite to land him would be either Texas or Georgia Tech. Alabama’s newfound gem gives them a weapon that even Nick Saban is not used to having at his disposal, an elite play maker at quarterback. While the tape this year has been limited, his play making ability is reminiscent of former Heisman trophy winners Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow. Only time will tell how good Tua will become, but he seems to be on the track to stardom. With freshman running back Najee Harris and another strong recruiting class, Tagovailoa will have another stellar team built around him for him to develop and defend their national title in 2019.

Other story lines from the 2018 College Football Playoff is the beginning of a dynasty at the University of Georgia. In his first year as a head coach, Kirby Smart has begun to build a dynasty reminiscent of the one his former boss Nick Saban’s at Alabama. Smart is bringing in the number one overall recruiting class for 2018 to give true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm a great shot at leading the Bulldogs back to the national championship. Georgia also has other young talent in running back D’andre Swift to help replace the production from Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. The player Georgia will miss most however, is 2017 Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith who was the clear leader of the Dawgs defense. This Bulldogs dynasty rising up in Athens has the college football world on notice and seems to be here for a long time. The development of Fromm and the top recruits from their top ranked recruiting class will be interesting to watch all of next season.

Alabama flat out man-handled the top seeded Clemson Tigers in the semifinals and they went home with their tails in between their legs. Tiger fans can find a reason to rejoice in their defeat  because of the surprise return of star defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. They also have the top ranked pocket passer coming on campus next year in quarterback Trevor Lawrence who has been touted as “way ahead of Deshaun (Watson) from a physical standpoint” coming out of high school by Clemson’s beloved head coach Dabo Sweeney. It will be interesting to see if second year quarterback Kelly Bryant can hold off Lawrence and keep his starting job for the next season. With the defensive star returning, an exciting  running back in Travis Etienne, and the powerful arm of Lawrence, Clemson is poised for another title run after a disappointing end to the season. Oklahoma blew a huge lead to Georgia and Baker Mayfield will be headed to the NFL along with offensive tackle Orlando Brown and tight end Mark Andrews, so the Sooners will most likely experience a drop off in play next year and most likely will not be a major factor in next years playoff, but it is still a possibility.

While Alabama came away with the championship trophy, they did not finish the season undefeated falling short in the Iron Bowl and not even reaching their conference championship. While they did prove that they deserved their spot in the playoff with the domination of Clemson and the comeback victory against Georgia, one team did complete the season undefeated. The UCF Knights completed a perfect season and their fans have made it known that they deserved a chance in the playoff, especially after they defeated Auburn in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. While they did win every game this year, the level of competition that they face simply is not comparable to that of the four teams in the playoff and any reasonable fan with any knowledge of both teams would not have UCF as a favorite to beat the national champion Crimson Tide. UCF fans have much to celebrate this year after completing a perfect season and they should be satisfied with the results. The Knights finished ranked sixth in the country which is a major accomplishment for a school outside of the power five conferences and that should not be overlooked, but at the end of the season, sixth is right where they deserve to be ranked.

This college football season has been hectic and has experienced many ups and downs, but at the end of the season, Nick Saban goes home with another trophy. The legend still finds himself on top even with all of the unpredictability this season has brought. This year has seen many great quarterbacks leave for the draft including Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Baker Mayfield, but it has also seen the rise of many more star signal callers. Next season will be headlined by young quarterbacks including Jake Fromm, Tua Tagovailoa, and Trevor Lawrence. This season has brought about many surprises and the 2018 season has college football fans excited about the new possibilities. As Alabama is crowned as national champion again, the race for the next national championship is just beginning.

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