The College Football National Championship has turned into a party of two. Since the 2015 season, either the Alabama Crimson Tide or the Clemson Tigers had won the College Football National Championship every time, except for 2020, when the LSU Tigers capped off a dream season. The current format of the College Football postseason began with the 2014 campaign. Alabama has played in five of the seven total national championship games, with Clemson totaling four title game appearances. The Ohio State Buckeyes are the only other program to play in multiple national championship games in the current format with two.
Of course, the Alabama Crimson Tide were a preseason favorite to win the 2020 College Football National Championship. Alabama was coming off a disappointing 2019 campaign in which they lost two games. A season-ending loss to the arch-rival Auburn Tigers in the SEC championship game cost the Crimson Tide a playoff berth. Thus, it stood to figure that Alabama would be on a comeback quest. And the Crimson Tide roared back with a vengeance. Alabama dominated from start to finish and was never seriously challenged. The Crimson Tide toyed with Notre Dame in a 31-14 semifinal win that they failed to cover as 18.5-point chalk. And then, in the National Championship game, Alabama powered past Ohio State 52-24 as 9.5-point favorites for an easy payout.
As for Clemson Tigers, they came off as a team that had been feeling itself a little too much. Clemson was upset by Ohio State 49-28 as 7-point chalk in the national semifinal. The Tigers were a consensus favorite to beat the Buckeyes and meet Alabama for all the marbles. But Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney left too much bulletin board material for the Bucks with some careless comments dismissive of Ohio State. Clemson came out flat and disrespectful of the Buckeyes and got exactly what they deserved. It was an unfulfilling end to the Trevor Lawrence era. Lawrence led the Tigers to the 2018 national championship as a true freshman quarterback. It proved to be the high point of his time at Clemson.
More of the Same for 2021?
Immediately after Alabama hoisted the national championship trophy, they were installed as favorites to win the 2021 national title +300, with Clemson right behind at +350. Another College Football Playoff mainstay, Ohio State, opened as a +400 choice to win the 2021 season national championship. The Oklahoma Sooners, who have made four College Football Playoff appearances, were the public’s fourth choice for the 2021 national championship at +800. The next three picks were all teams from the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The Georgia Bulldogs +1000, Texas A&M Aggies +3300, and LSU Tigers +3300 were the top second-tier bets. Also at +3300 were the Texas Longhorns and USC Trojans. And then at +4000 were the Florida Gators, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Oregon Ducks, and North Carolina Tar Heels.
SEC Fatigue, The Same Teams, and Why That Is
The TV ratings for the National Championship Game were the lowest in the history of the current format. Gambling interest remained high, but the handle would undoubtedly increase in line with a spike in future television viewership.
The current problem that college football must confront is that, on a national basis, fans are bored with the same teams making the College Football Playoff and the College Football National Championship every year. Alabama is an undisputed dynasty with Clemson close behind and Ohio State within range. The 2020 champion LSU hails from the same SEC as Alabama. Oklahoma is a perennial power in the Big 12, while Ohio State is a cut far above anyone else in the Big Ten.
Whether anyone likes it or not, the current power teams are not going to change. The SEC prioritizes football over all other sports and enjoys an immense recruiting advantage. The majority of the nation’s best players live in the warmer southern climate. In that region of the United States, football is king. That makes the challenge for the other teams and conference incredibly difficult.
Gamblers must deal with the world as it currently exists. That means Alabama and the SEC will be at the point of college football for years to come.