Alabama goes into Monday night’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game wearing not only its traditional crimson and white, but also the emblem of its conference — which could prove to be a good thing because the SEC has been on quite a roll lately.
A year after the conference was humbled during bowl season — posting an overall record of 6-5, including losses by five teams in the highly regarded SEC West — the league has bounced back in a big way this postseason setting an NCAA record with eight bowl wins.
The SEC’s dominance in these games isn’t just reflected by its teams winning, but also by the manner in which they are winning. The SEC is 8-2 against the spread so far including Alabama’s 38-0 win over Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl, Tennessee’s 45-6 blowout of higher-ranked Northwestern in the Outback Bowl, and the 28 point beatdown of Oklahoma State by Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl.
Does this trend then suggest Alabama will coast to an easy victory over Clemson? Not necessarily.
The Crimson Tide does have an advantage over Clemson, but it’s not reflected by the SEC’s overall bowl record — instead it may actually explain the SEC’s success.
Clemson has been one of America’s most successful programs on the recruiting trail. According to 247sports, the Tigers last class was ranked No. 8 nationally and the previous four classes before that all finished in the top 25, but even with those wins on National Signing Day there is still a significant gap between the Tigers and Alabama.
According to Bud Elliott of SB Nation, while 47 percent of Clemson’s roster is made up of four- and five-star recruits, a staggering 77 percent of Alabama’s current players received that designation coming out of high school. The depth of the Crimson Tide’s roster is a substantial reason why Alabama is listed as a touchdown favorite in Monday night’s game.
Furthermore, the talent advantage Alabama has over Clemson is similar to the edge the other SEC bowl winners had over their opponents. No program consistently out-recruits the best of the SEC and nothing in college football matters more than having the most talent. This alone explains why the conference already has so many bowl victories this year and is likely to get another postseason win on Monday night.
In other words, while the league’s wins in January may get all the attention, it was the hard work done that leads up to the wins in February that made them possible. That has already been proven true eight times this season, and Alabama will likely reaffirm that fact on Monday night.
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