After the unpredictable year that was 2020, the turn of the calendar has given us at least some sense of normalcy. Normal as in the Alabama Crimson Tide are once again champions of college football after their 52-24 shellacking of the third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.
Consider this: since this current Tide dynasty started in 2009, there have been as many seasons in which Alabama won the title as there have been in which it didn't. For head coach Nick Saban, it is his 7th career national championships, breaking a tie with legendary Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant for the most in the history of college football. Saban has now led the Crimson Tide to six championships after he coached LSU to one in 2003, firmly solidifying his position as one of the three best coaches in college football history and strengthening his argument as the greatest there ever was.
Alabama's perfect 13-0 season didn't come without hitches. There was no clear starting quarterback at the beginning of the season, star receiver Jaylen Waddle missed eleven weeks with a fractured ankle, and Saban had not one but two instances in which he tested positive for the coronavirus - though the first was determined to be false after three consecutive days of negative results back in October.
But we never would have known. All the Tide did was lead the FBS in scoring (48.5 points per game, setting a new school record), finishing the season with an average margin of victory of nearly 30 points.
As the season waned, it seemed as if Alabama was a shoe-in for the national championship, its third in the College Football Playoff era. Mac Jones came out of no where to be named the nation's top quarterback, running back Najee Harris won the Doak Walker Award as the top college back, and DeVonta Smith was unanimously named college football's top receiver. All three would finish in the top ten in Heisman Trophy voting with Smith becoming the first receiver in a quarter-century to win the award. Two Alabama linemen won awards and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian received the Broyles Award as the country's top assistant.
Speaking of the Broyles Award winner, Sarkisian called a masterful game in his final contest with the Tide. He was named the next head coach of Texas after the Longhorns fired four-year coach Tom Herman last week. Any questions of Sark being distracted were quickly dispelled as the journeyman coach schemed the Tide to its improbable 7th game of 50+ points this season. And it looked easy. Alabama heavily used pre-snap motions, particularly in the red zone, to befuddle the Ohio State defense, create masterful mismatches, and consequently run up and down the field at will to the tune of 612 total yards. The Alabama offense failed to score only three possessions not including the end of the game as Sarkisian made sure to leave 'Bama on the highest note possible.
Last night saw the culminations of some impressive careers and seasons. Jones's completion percentage of 77.4 was a new FBS single-season record for the Heisman runner-up, as he finished 2020 pacing the nation in passing yards and finishing behind only Forida's Kyle Trask in passing touchdowns.
Jones also set the record for most passing yards in a national title game and tied the mark for touchdown passes in a title game. His top receiver etched himself into the record books with 13 catches and 3 scores, both title game records. He did this, along with 215 receiving yards, in one half as a hand injury sidelined him just seconds into the final thirty minutes. The Heisman winner finished the season leading college football in every major receiving category. Not to be forgotten, Harris's 30 total touchdowns tied the SEC record for scores in a season.
After the game, Saban raved about his team, calling it "the ultimate team'' and "the best" he's ever had. Considering the lack of consistency this coronavirus season presented, the fact that this team came out and destroyed nearly every opponent that dared share a field with them in devastating fashion is nothing short of remarkable. Also, consider the amount of first round talent on the roster - some of whom I have mention and some I haven't like linemen Landon Dickerson and Alex Leatherwood, and corner Patrick Surtain II, and Saban could be right.
The 2020 iteration of the Alabama Crimson Tide is certainly Saban's best ever and it can stake its claim as one of the best we've even seen.
Alabama is the first team to go wire-to-wire as the number one team in the country.