Monday night, the culmination of the entire college football season, but what year is Monday’s College Football Playoff Final taking place in? Is this the 2018 Natty or the 2019? I’ve had that question for a while and haven’t found a definitive answer, so feel free to give your own input on my Twitter poll:

How They Got Here: #1 Alabama Crimson Tide

Where does one begin? Nick Saban is most likely college football’s greatest head coach in the history of the game. You want to know why people aren’t big fans of the Crimson Tide? It’s because their success seems automatic. Saban is on cruise control. Consistently getting top tier recruits, but more importantly getting astounding results on the field when it matters.

I’ve given Alabama a hard time in the past for their lacking strength of schedule, and while it still applied during the 2018 season, the way in which the Crimson Tide took care of business left little to be desired. Heisman-runner up Tua Tagovailoa led the charge all season after coming to the rescue in last year’s Final. 41 touchdowns, four interceptions.

But Bama’s most intimidating factor is the feeling that they can put up four quick touchdowns if they want to. Even when Oklahoma drew back into the semifinal in the second half, it always felt as though Alabama had a solid chokehold on the game.

How They Got Here: #2 Clemson Tigers

After a successful season with freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the Tigers utterly dismantled the the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday. While we waited for Lawrence to make his “freshman mistake” under the bright lights, that moment never came. Instead, he dissected Notre Dame’s defense, going 27/39 with 327 yards and three touchdowns.

And while the QB1 never appeared fazed, it was the defense that stole some of the spotlight. Even without defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, the Irish were no match for Clemson’s defense. Holding Notre Dame to an early field goal, and QB Ian Book to 160 passing yards, the game was over before it even began.

Now, Clemson’s biggest test of the season: the Crimson Tide. And while Dexter Lawrence remains sidelined due to his untimely suspension for trace amounts of the illegal drug Ostarine, the Tigers have embraced the next man up mentality all year long and it hasn’t failed them yet.

Player to Watch: Albert Huggins, DT, Clemson

Huggins has received plenty of snaps this year, but in Lawrence’s absence, proved himself worthy of the start in the Cotton Bowl. It wasn’t a question heading into last Saturday’s game, but his performance bolstered his hype. Finishing with just one solo tackle and one QB hurry, Huggins plays a pivotal role in containing Alabama’s three-headed-running-back monster formed by Joshua Jacobs, Damien Harris and Najee Harris. Stop them, you slow the Crimson Tide down. IF you allow Saban & Co. to formulate a balanced attack, it’ll be over before Imagine Dragons brings the halftime house down.

Gamblers’ Corner:

Well, I’ve struggled this bowl season to say the least, but if I can be sure of one thing, this one’s going to be close. Alabama enters five-point favorites with the total set at 59.5. While I think Tagovailoa is an out-of-this-world specimen, I’ve thought the Tigers are the only team capable of bringing down Saban all season long. Take Clemson +5, and while the defenses are special, take the over, too. #FREEMONEY. Meeting in the College Football Playoff Final for the fourth time in the six years of it’s existence, we’re in for a treat.

Predicition:

My hope for this year’s Playoff Final? Good football snacks, a good broadcast and the health of the players. With Notre Dame out of the running, I don’t have a dog in the race. That being said, give me some #TigerTownDelight. Tigers, 34, Tide 31.

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