As we learned Tuesday night, there’s no such thing as a sure thing. (And I’m not talking about the Hawks winning in Cleveland.) But I’ve come to regard Alabama as the closest thing to an absolute certainty in our ever-changing world.
It’s possible the Tide could lose before the College Football Playoff. It’s possible they could lose in the semifinal or the championship game. Possible, but not nearly probable.
Before the polls closed last night, FiveThirtyEight gave the candidate who’s now President-Elect a 28.6 percent chance of winning. As we speak, I’d give Alabama a 99.9 percent chance of being the national champ.
I realize that Bama can and does lose, albeit on rare occasions. It has finished unbeaten only — word “only” used advisedly — once under Nick Saban. It could, I guess, lose to Auburn two days after Thanksgiving. It could lose to the SEC East champ in the Georgia Dome. But let’s be honest: Do you really, truly see that happening?
LSU held Alabama scoreless through three quarters Saturday; it lost by 10 points. Texas A&M led Bama 14-13 in the third quarter last month; the Aggies lost 33-14. Ole Miss took a 24-3 lead on the Tide with 2:43 remaining in the second quarter on Sept. 17; the Rebels trailed after three quarters. Clemson had Bama reeling in the CFP title tilt in January; Nick Saban called for an onside kick and that was that.
I covered my first college football game in 1976. I’ve seen great teams. I’ve seen great Alabama teams. I’ve never seen one as confident as this — even with a new quarterback, something that has now become a Bama staple; even with a new defensive coordinator in Jeremy Pruitt. If you want to call Alabama under Saban the best program in the history of the sport, I wouldn’t argue.
The second set of CFP ratings were revealed Tuesday night. (Admittedly, while many among us were watching something else.) Bama was No. 1. Bama will be No. 1 when the field of four is set in December. Bama figures to be No. 1 when the playing is done. I really can’t see this season ending any other way.