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College Football Playoff 2018 predictions: Why the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide will win it all

The College Football Playoff is approaching quickly, and that means we’re closer to finding out which team will emerge as the 2018 national champion. As has been the case during every year of the College Football Playoff’s existence, Alabama will be playing in it once again. Bama previously won the CFP in 2015 and 2017. Overall, its record in the CFP is 5-2, and this year it will be trying to improve that record to 7-2 as it looks to win its third national title in four years.

And believe me, Alabama is more than capable of doing just that. Here are three reasons why Alabama is ready to add another trophy to its case.

1. It has no fear of this stage: There are times when intangibles like experience are considered to be too large of a factor, but the playoff isn’t one of them. It’s important to remember that college football teams are filled with young men between the ages of 18 and 24. If the specter of the Super Bowl can cause a professional football player to feel nervous, the CFP can wreak havoc on the emotions of a college kid. This isn’t anything new to Alabama. When you’re Alabama, nearly every game you play is a big deal. It opens its regular seasons with neutral site games against other Power Five teams, have regular-season meetings with LSU and Auburn every season, and then regularly make trips to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. Oh, and as I mentioned in the introduction, the Tide have played in the CFP every year of its existence.

There are players on this Alabama roster about to play the eighth CFP game of their careers. They’ve been through all the preparation before, and they know exactly what to expect. When Alabama steps on the field for its semifinal against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, it will not be a team intimidated by the stage or the moment. That alone isn’t nearly enough to win the game, but it could keep the Tide from losing it.

2. The offense is better than any other in program history: Alabama will be facing an Oklahoma team that might have the best offense in college football history in the Orange Bowl. It’s an offense that’s been so phenomenal that the Alabama offense, which has been remarkable in its own right, is being overshadowed. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was a Heisman Trophy runner-up to Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray for a reason. It’s because he joined this Alabama offense and took it to a level it has never achieved before. Just look at this breakdown of the offenses of previous Alabama national champions and compare it to what the 2018 offense has done. It’s mind-blowing.

2009

32.1

0.474

403.0

5.96

2011

34.8

0.524

429.6

6.46

2012

38.7

0.604

445.5

6.95

2015

35.1

0.483

427.1

5.89

2017

37.1

0.550

444.1

6.59

2018

47.9

0.719

527.6

7.92

Look at those numbers! Alabama enters this game scoring 47.9 points per game, a full 9.2 points per game more than the 2012 Alabama offense, which had been the most prolific offense Alabama had in this modern dynasty. It has averaged 0.115 more points per play and 0.97 more yards per play that same 2012 offense.

If not for Oklahoma, we’d be talking about this Alabama offense as one of the greatest in college football history. Yes, it’s true that the 2018 Alabama defense hasn’t performed as well as previous defenses, but when Alabama’s scoring 10 more points per game than it has in previous years, that doesn’t matter a whole hell of a lot.

3. It has more depth than anybody else: When it comes to recruiting rankings, one of the biggest gripes about how the system works is that they weigh the number of recruits “too much.” In other words, a recruiting class of 10 four-star players might be ranked behind a class of 25 three-star players. But there’s a reason for that. It’s called safety in numbers. In other words, the more players you have, the more likely you are to have players develop into stars.

Well, now imagine that 25-man class full of three-star players is now a 25-man class full of nothing but five- and four-star players. That’s when you have Alabama. What makes Alabama great is that it has just as much talent on the bench as it does on the field. It gives the team a level of depth that very few other schools can match.

While Jalen Hurts coming in to lead a comeback against Georgia in the SEC title game made for a great story about perseverance, the other way to look at it is as a shining example of Alabama’s depth. When Alabama lost Tagovailoa — the Heisman runner-up — it replaced him with a former four-star recruit who had already won two SEC titles and a national title. How many other schools can do that?

Every season we see numerous Alabama players selected in the NFL Draft, and every season Alabama replaces them with the next 5-star, and the machine carries on. This is a program with unmatched depth, and its one of the reasons why it’s always in the CFP, and why it’s always a favorite to win it all.

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