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College Football National Championship, Alabama vs. Georgia: Live open thread

Time to crown a champion.

Alabama vs. Georgia from 2015 Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Alabama v. Georgia

College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T
8:00pm ET, ESPN*

It’s been a fine college football season, albeit fraught with confusion in a post-Deshaun Watson landscape.

Two years ago, Watson’s loss at the hands of Alabama set up a Clemson-Alabama rematch that everyone could see coming a mile away...about as far away as we could see Watson and his teammates winning the trophy. But his departure to the 2017 NFL Draft left the door wide open for all comers.

The Ohio State Buckeyes shook up the coaching staff while riding behind QB J.T. Barrett and an NFL-caliber defensive line. Florida St. were hoping to lean into their defense while letting QB Deandre Francois guide things on offense. And of course USC was coming off of a huge Rose Bowl win over the Penn State Nittany Lions hoping to ride a Heisman campaign supporting QB Sam Darnold to a playoff route.

They would all be put aside.

Clemson returned for Tigers-Tide III while Georgia rode an SEC Championship season over Heisman-winning QB Baker Mayfield’s Oklahoma side to today’s matchup.

Of course, there’s a ridiculous amount of NFL talent.

For Georgia, it starts with LB Roquan Smith. He is a first-round talent with first-round production. The first question is fit. Is he a 3-4 ILB? Is he a 4-3 OLB? Is he whatever the hell you ask him to be? I’m not entirely sure...and I’m not entirely sure I care. He’s good. Then there’s RB Nick Chubb and RB Sony Michel. Yes, Chubb is a more complete back. Yes, Michel is quicker and more explosive. Yes, both of them will be attractive options. Is Lorenzo Carter an NFL-caliber pass rusher off the edge? Is Isaiah Wynn a capable NFL tackle? How many other seniors like S Dominick Sanders or DT John Atkins will factor into Day 3?

Then there’s the matter of the talent not eligible for this draft, and obviously QB Jake Fromm is at the forefront. The problem is that Fromm will be in a three-way QB battle as soon as this game was done. He was the backup to start the year behind sophomore Jacob Eason. When Eason went down with an ankle injury, Fromm stepped up and played incredibly well and hasn’t stopped. Will Eason want a shot at the job again in the spring? Will he even have a chance? Meanwhile, Justin Fields was arguably the top QB recruit in the country, and he’s headed in to break up this two-QB party. Beyond the QB maelstrom, there’s the undersized WR duo of junior Terry Godwin and sophomore Mecole Hardman. One of them will be at the forefront in 2018. Will either take the lead tonight? Meanwhile, there’s the DL duo of Julian Rochester and Tyler Clark. Their time is coming, but perhaps we get a glimpse of what’s come tonight.

Then there’s this other college football team that nobody ever talks about. Balamaba.

Sigh. It gets boring talking about NFL talent coming out of Malbababa.

DB Minkah Fitzpatrick might be the best pure football player in the country. WR Calvin Ridley might be the best pure wide receiver in the country. And LB Rashaan Evans might be the best pure intimidator in the country. I’m not sure he’s the best at anything in football, but I wouldn’t say that in his presence due to the preceding sentence. It’s hard not to fall for undersized Alalala cornerbacks; someone will do it for CB Anthony Averett. S Ronnie Harrison and DL Da’Ron Payne are both NFL players, but I’d hate to be the coach to figure out where to play them and who to supplant. RBs Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris are Chubb and Michel lite. Does that make them better value picks? And a few years back, I tried to get ol Brandon Bate to go see this kid south of DC everyone was talking about named Da’Shawn Hand. He never turned into the star the market Bate and I live in thought he could, but the talent has always been there. Does he just need a better NFL environment than the Mbalbalamba one he found himself in?

I could keep going on exiting talent. And because it’s Albama, I could keep going on developing talent. Jonah Williams and Matt Womack are young developing tackles. Soon, they’ll be seasoned draft-ready prospects. Raekwon Davis is going to be an NFL star. And TE Irv Smith, Jr., is going to turn into...oh, who the hell knows.

It’s Valganaba.


Location

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA

Date/Time

Monday, January 8, 8:00pm ET / 5:00pm PT

* Broadcast

ESPN is producing 20 different broadcast versions of the game between television, radio and online coverage.

I HIGHLY recommend the Coaches Film Room on ESPNEWS. Northwestern Wildcats HC Pat Fitzgerald, Colorado State Rams HC and former Georgia Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo, Ole Miss Rebels HC Matt Luke and former Texas A&M Aggies HC Kevin Sumlin will be joined by other coaches to be named to break down the game in real time.

My other favorite option in the MegaCast is “Sounds of the Game” on ESPN Classic where the ambient sounds of the game and the crowd are captured without any commentary. It’s essentially like being at the game.

Suffice to say...ESPN has you covered.

Online Streaming

Watch ESPN

Odds

Alabama -3.5

Head-To-Head History

Alabama 38 wins, Georgia 24 wins, 3 ties

SBN Sites

Alabama - Roll Bama Roll

Georgia - Dawg Sports