College football fans know how in last season’s national championship game, Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts was struggling mightily against Georgia.
With the Tide losing at the half, Nick Saban pulled his starter and put in highly-touted but little-used freshman backup Tua Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa of course led the Tide from behind to win the national championship, throwing the winning touchdown pass in overtime.
In a just little over one-half of a game, Tagovailoa etched his name into college football history.
Tagovailoa was named the starter for the 2018 season, and led the Crimson Tide to an undefeated regular season.
He was every bit as good as advertised.
That of course left Hurts, a two-year starter, as the backup.
But instead of sulking or seeking an immediate transfer as many players do these days, he stayed in Tuscaloosa.
During games, he was a good teammate on the sidelines.
During practice, he worked on getting better.
The SEC title game last weekend was an Alabama-Georgia rematch.
The winner was guaranteed a spot in the College Football Playoffs.
The loser would have to take their chances with the committee.
Alabama struggled early. Tagovailoa got hit, often, and was not 100 percent.
They found themselves losing again to the Bulldogs.
In the third quarter, Tagovailoa was knocked out of the game.
So in came Hurts, with the Tide’s season hanging in the balance.
You either saw what happened or can guess what comes next.
Hurts led the Crimson Tide back to victory, running for the winning score.
In just a little under one-half of a game, Hurts cemented his place in college football lore.
What Hurts did will be talked about for as long as college football is played.
And it secured Alabama the top seed in the College Football Playoffs.
You can certainly argue that Georgia had its shot, but lost it when they lost to Alabama.
But with the exclusion of Georgia, the College Football Playoff Committee can drop that nonsense about selecting the four best teams.
Now I agree Oklahoma deserves a spot in the playoffs. But so do several other teams. As I’ve said before, it’s time to expand to eight teams.
But here we are with semifinal games of Alabama versus Oklahoma and Clemson versus Notre Dame.
During the Tide’s historic run over the past decade, they have not struggled very often, but when they have, it has often been against mobile, athletic quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel and Deshaun Watson.
The Sooners’ Kyler Murray fits that description. It will be quite interesting to see him go up against the Alabama defense.
But the Oklahoma defense has struggled to stop Big 12 offenses who were nowhere near as good as Alabama’s. The Tide should roll.
In the other contest, I think the Fighting Irish will keep it closer than most people think, but Clemson will prevail.
Then we will get an Alabama-Clemson playoff matchup for the fourth year in a row.