If you haven’t seen the highlights from last night’s college football national championship game, you’re missing out on greatness. It was one of the better games in recent memory in the entire sport, and definitely ranks up there in my top college football games I’ve ever seen.
I honestly didn’t go into this game with any high expectations, and had almost forgotten about it was happening after the horrible semifinal games from New Year’s Eve. It’s tough to get excited for a championship game when both teams got in with no competition and all you are expecting is another blowout. This game absolutely proved me wrong. It had everything a football fan could ask for: a battle for the spotlight between two star, Heisman-worthy players in Alabama’s Derrick Henry and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, strong play on both sides of the ball by both teams, and an overall tightly contested game that required near perfection to even have a chance at winning.
This game was just what the sport needed after the NFL had a mediocre Wild Card weekend to open up its playoffs. The only game I really enjoyed from the NFL weekend out of the four was the Seahawks-Vikings game, which was tarnished by a missed potential game-winning field goal with less than a minute left. The Steelers-Bengals game was enjoyable for its physicality, but was ruined by unnecessary penalties and cheap shots that basically made the game more about who could keep their cool. It was a poor start to the NFL’s biggest stage, and left a sour taste in my mouth going into next weekend.
This college game, however, really brought the mood back up for the sport, as it went back and forth with high scores, highlight plays, and two great teams leaving it all out in the last game of the season. Whether it was Henry’s huge performance, Watson carrying Clemson’s offense alongside a former walk-on receiver who came up huge throughout, or special teams dominating the fourth quarter for Alabama and completely taking over the game. The game had it all, and it didn’t need fights or mistakes to make it a big deal. Both teams realized how big momentum was going to be, took chances and capitalized on as many opportunities as possible, and made it a true spectacle for those watching in the stadium and at home.
It’s pretty sad that a college football game can outshine professional playoff games, and actually look more professional than those same NFL teams that were fighting and trash talking throughout these big games. Everyone always claims that football isn’t what it used to be and that the same animosity and physicality isn’t there anymore, but this Alabama-Clemson game proved that wrong in my opinion. It was what football should strive to be, and it’s what fans really want to see. Obviously everyone loves to see the big hits and teams that want to kill each other, but I’d much rather watch a game where both teams are performing at their best and doing everything they can to win. It was true football, and here’s hoping that the NFL can keep up the momentum created by its collegiate predecessors.