With football inching closer and closer I’ll probably be writing in some capacity about it until it gets here.
This week I decided to take a step back from high school and write a little bit about Alabama’s other favorite brand, college football.
It’s hard to believe this season will wrap up a decade. But time flies and we’ve had some great football in the past decade.
While ranking this list I tried to put my personal bias aside and rank based on how exciting the season and games were and how much parity (or equal level teams) there was.
To start off the list we go back to 2011
This season will be rememebered for two things.
The infamous “game of the century” between Alabama and LSU that resulted in a 9-6 snoozefest.
The second thing was the rematch that saw Alabama destroy LSU in the national championship in their own backyard in Louisiana.
Other than that, the only memorable thing of this season was Alabama leapfrogging Oklahoma State into the title game despite not winning their conference, which in turn set the wheels in motion for the playoff system we have today.
Also, upon going back, I realized there wasn’t many great games from this season either
2018’s lack of parity really hurt it. The season was basically just Alabama and Clemson, and while those team’s fans may like that, it doesn’t make for great all around excitement.
Teams like Georgia and Oklahoma had a chance to break in there. However, the Bulldogs choked in the SEC championship and the Sooners’ historic offense and Heisman quarterback couldn’t make up for their dreadful defense.
Had the national championship game been more exciting, perhaps this would have been higher. However, Clemson’s 44-16 beatdown of Alabama, while shocking, was a big letdown after all the build up.
Highlight games: Alabama vs Georgia, Oklahoma vs. Texas I and II, Ohio State and Penn State.
To me this season will always be defined by what could have been.
Everyone wanted to see that Alabama and Ohio State rematch, but by the time the Buckeyes got their act togther, it was too late.
Instead, we got Michigan State in the playoff.
Alabama overcame a tough early season loss to Ole Miss to win the title, beating Clemson in one of the best championship games in recent memory.
In retrospect, this season was probably better than I give it credit for. However, any season that ends with Michigan State in the playoff has to be in the bottom half
Highlight games: Alabama vs. Clemson, Alabama vs. Ole Miss, Notre Dame vs. Clemson.
Another year the playoff committe just couldn’t get it right. Putting Ohio State over Penn State, despite the Nittany Lions’ win over the Buckeyes and winning the Big 10 was, in hindsight, very dumb. So, we got Ohio State and Washington in the playoff, which led to a second straight year of terrible playoff games that both ended in double digit wins for the winners.
Thankfully, Alabama and Clemson stepped up again, delivering yet another epic title clash.
As for the rest of the season, it was okay. The rise of Lamar Jackson and Clemson’s repeated near season ending losses were fun to watch. However, the tide went virtually unchallenged in the SEC and when the SEC is down, the season is never as good.
Highlight games: Penn State vs. USC, Clemson vs. Louisville, Alabama vs Clemson
That’s all that needs to be said.
Newton’s emergence at Auburn had a bigger impact that probably any other player in recent memory, save for maybe Tim Tebow.
Newton took an average Auburn team and led them to a 14-0 season, five come from behind wins and a national title.
His win over Alabama after trailing 24-0 will forever be known as the “Camback”.
Highlight games: Auburn vs. Alabama, Alabama vs. LSU.
The year of the SEC.
It’s probably fitting that the last year of the SEC’s national championship streak was also it’s peak year as a conference.
How do I know it was the peak year? Because at one point, six SEC teams sat inside the top 10. All six of those teams made it into the top five at one point or another.
The SEC championship between Alabama and Georgia was one of the best games of the decade and served as a de factor national title game.
The SEC delivered the first freshman heisman winner in the form of Johnny Manziel, who’s thrilling upset over Alabama will forever be etched in SEC lore.
Heck, had Notre Dame lost to USC we just might have gottne our second straight SEC vs SEC title game, this time Alabama and Florida. How crazy would that have been?
Highlight games: Alabama vs. Georgia, LSU vs. Alabama, Alabama vs. Texas A&M
Another season that looked to be two teams at the top went a different direction in a hurry.
Alabama and Florida State were clearly the two best teams, but then came Auburn.
The Tigers, with a new head coach and fresh off a 3-9 season, came out of nowhere to win the SEC, defeating Georgia and Alabama with two of the most miracle plays ever.
You can’t go a season without seeing the “Kick six” anymore.
Alabama’s quest for a three peat, Ohio State keeping their winning streak alive and the Seminoles rising back to natioal title status all made for a great season.
Highlight games: Auburn vs. Alabama, Florida State or Texas A&M. Ohio State vs. Michigan, Ohio State vs. Clemson.
What a fun year.
After two years of getting it wrong, the comittee got it right again, giving us a playoff of Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama.
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield went from walk on to Heisman trophy winner, with plenty of entertaining and fun games and antics along the way.
Auburn’s Gus Malzahn went from on the hot seat to Mr. $49 million after defeating No. 1 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama.
And lastfully Alabama went from looking like one of Saban’s weaker squads to national champions. The tide overcame injuries and squeaked into the playoff, despite not winning their division.
In the national title game, nobody is lilkely to forget Tua coming off the bench to lead Alabama to win over Georgia in overtime.
2nd and 26 anybody?
Highlight games: Oklahoma vs. Georgia, Ohio State vs. Penn State, Auburn vs. UCF.
This was the best year of the decade and it wasn’r even close. And there’s only one word to descibe why.
To first playoff rankings had 1. Mississippi State 2. Florida State 3. Auburn 4. Ole Miss
The final rankings had 1. Alabama 2. Oregon 3. Florida State 4. Ohio State
All in all, there were 10 different teams to be in the top 4 of the playoff rankings.
I will always say that college football is better when you don’t know what will happen. The first year of the playoff gave us just that.
Plus, it was filled with so many great games and moments.
Ohio State climbing from 16 to 4 in the rankings and then winning the national title with a third string quaterback.
Florida State contantly returning from the dead to win games until it backfired on them in the playoff.
And can I just say this. Mississippi State was ranked No.1 at one point. It doesn’t get any crazier than that.
Highlight games: Florida State vs. Notre Dame, Auburn vs. Ole Miss, Alabama vs. Ohio State.