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Most intriguing questions heading into the 2019 college football season

23   //    15 Aug 2019, 08:36 IST

College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T - Alabama v Clemson
College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T - Alabama v Clemson

Less than two weeks away from the NCAA season opener with the ACC’s Miami and SEC’s Florida making early cases for who is the top team in the Sunshine State, I wanted to give a little preview of the upcoming five months or so. To do that, I came up with my top ten storylines ahead of the upcoming college football season.

While a lot of people may think this could be a two or three-team race once again, several things are completely unpredictable and these are the themes that I will be following closely as the year goes along.

How will Bama respond after talking that blow in the National Championship game?

College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T - Alabama v Clemson

Clemson did something to Alabama that I haven’t really seen anybody do during their championship run over the last decade – they kind of punched them in the mouth. Re-watching the game, I didn’t think the Tigers simply outmatched the SEC powerhouse, but instead it was them coming up with the crucial plays in the biggest spots.

Tua had that bad pick-six early on and they just could not convert on third downs. Overall the Tide went 4-13 in that game while Clemson converted 10 of their 15 attempts, with their spectacular receiving duo in Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross going off for 192 yards and two touchdowns on six third-down grabs. They just could not push those guys out of bounds on the sidelines or wrestle the ball out when it touched their hands. At the same time their Heisman trophy finalist seemed banged up and for the first team all year he was a little uncomfortable.

You can argue how much Bama was dominated or how great Trevor Lawrence and his receivers were, but in the end, only thing counts – How will Nick Saban’s team respond? Those guys are bringing back who was considered a lock to take home the Heisman trophy until late in the year, the nation’s most talented receiving corp, a junior running back who once was a five-star recruit and averaged 6.7 yards-per-carry last season and a defense that is loaded with NFL prospects once again. They have everything they need to make it to the big game once again.

However, for the first time since this run has started, I feel like there is a crack in the Alabama armor. I saw a team that was more physical and better schematically, after everything Saban has lost among his coaching staff. With trips to College Station and Starkville, as well as a re-emerging LSU coming to town, this is not a cakewalk for the Tide. Plus their biggest test should come in the SEC title game, assuming Georgia makes it there.

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