By Liam Day and Philip Johnson
Another year, another season of the Alabama Crimson Tide being on top. The Tide was ranked number one in the country to start the season for the second straight year and the fourth time in eight years. They then kicked off week one with a dominant victory over Florida State who was ranked #3 at the time. Bama bested the Seminoles in every facet of the game and came away with a commanding 24-7 victory. Head Coach Nick Saban wanted the game to serve as an example to the rest of the country that Bama is back, and perhaps better than ever. The Tide followed the Florida State win with a 41-10 home win over Fresno State, a 41-23 win over Colorado State, and the 59-0 obliteration of Vanderbilt. Sice then they have blown out Ole Miss 66-3 and won a tough fight at Kyle Field when they beat Texas A&M 27-19. So what makes Alabama so good? How far can Saban’s team go? And who can step up to stop them?
For the past ten years Nick Saban has created a championship atmosphere at Alabama; players expect to win every game. It has been dubbed the NFL factory after putting out first-round picks year after year. The Tides credentials make many like Glenelg teacher Mr. Johnson believe they will win the championship every year “With the crazy talent they possess on that team, you see why they win almost every year. I don't see why they won't keep winning the next few years”. This 2017 team is no different.
With five and four star recruits across the board, especially on the defensive side of the ball, many believe this Tide team is one of the best. Offensive stars Bo Scarbrough, Damien Harris, Calvin Ridley, and Ross Pierschbacher pave the way for the Tides dominant offense. With sophomore Quarterback Jalen Hurts coming off a Heisman candidate season, and reportedly making offseason improvements the media dubbed “stagnant Bama offense” will be rejuvenated and firing on all cylinders. With the New England Patriots former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, now calling the plays, the Tide look, to show the country their now dangerous on both sides of the ball. With all these weapons at their disposal, who could potentially take down the Tide?
Coming off a huge win at top ranked Ohio State, the Sooners and Heisman candidate quarterback Baker Mayfield look to be the best team to challenge Bama right now. Oklahoma is perhaps the only team that suffered minimal damage due to players entering the draft. Stopping the powerhouse Alabama would be a Cinderella story this year and Oklahoma quarterback Mayfield is exactly that. As a former walk-on to Texas Tech, Mayfield was laid off after an injury when backup QB Clayton Nicholas shined in his position. He immediately transferred to Oklahoma and asked coach Riley for a tryout and weeks later he was the starting quarterback. Oklahoma is currently ranked #3 in the country with a punishing defense only giving up 12 points per game. Even with a gunslinger under center , Oklahoma may not need Mayfield to be spectacular to take down the Tide.
With all the hype around Bama and the Sooners, many college football fans and analysts alike have overlooked the defending champion Clemson Tigers. That in part is due to the 9 players being drafted off last years team, most notably quarterback Deshaun Watson. However head coach Dabo Swinney has another talent filled roster this year and boasts arguably the nation's best defensive line. With potential first round picks Dexter Lawrence, Austin Bryant, Christian Wilkins all on the defensive line and a solid secondary behind them teams better watch out for the Tigers on their mission to repeat. On the offensive side Junior quarterback patiently waited two years behind Deshaun Watson for the starting job and he got it after a battle for the spot took all summer. He impressed many with his 3 touchdown performance in Clemson's first marquee win this season in a controlling 47-21 win over the Louisville Cardinals. Clemson's great lay early has their fans confident. Avid Tigers fan Mr. Kinloch expressed this sentiment “Oh I think were not only going to run the table but we’ll win the ACC, get the #1 seed for the playoffs ,and beat Alabama handily again”.
Even though the Tide did not win the championship last year they are still clearly the team to beat. However the Tide are used to this feeling of having a target on their back more than any other team in football. As the 2017 season pans out teams will come to the forefront and teams will fade away but the question still remains. Who can take down the Tide?