GOULD STANDARD / Play It Again, Dabo & Nick. And Final Ranking Analysis.

Crimson Tide, Clemson saga will continue. The amazing Lawrence. And the semi-imprecise science of ranking teams.

I hope y’all enjoyed the national championship game. I know I did. That first quarter alone had enough thrills for an entire game.

It’s a shame TV can’t put together enough dollars for these two to meet in the regular season.

But I am really looking forward to Clemson-Alabama V in the championship game in New Orleans a year from now. And Clemson-Alabama VI in Miami in 2021.

Trevor Lawrence! Whoa. True freshman? More like true super-hero. Imagine what he’s going to do in the Big Easy and in South Florida, when he has more experience and weight-room time.

Not sure where to send him next. Washington? The Middle East? The Jacksonville Jaguars?

@ Clemson opens at 2/1 and Alabama is 5/2 to win the national championship next year, courtesy of BetOnline. Georgia, Michigan and Ohio State are next, at 12/1. (All five of these odds are too low in my mind.)

And Trevor Lawrence is even money to be the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

@ And by the way, What’s the over/under for the date of the first ``Is it time for Nick Saban to retire?’’ story? Spring practice? Sooner?

When a guy his age loses a game like that, it’s like the 30-something baseball slugger who has a rough stretch.

You won't find me on that bandwagon. Even with this blowout loss to Clemson, Saban is the greatest college football coach of all time in my book.

@ The thing that impresses me about Dabo Swinney is that he is doing this at Clemson. There’s a good football tradition there. But would you put Clemson in the same elite grouping with Alabama, Notre Dame, USC, Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas? I think not. Although if this keeps up. . .

@ It’s too bad the College All-Star game can’t be brought back. Old-timers may recall that from 1934 to 1976, the best college players took on the NFL champion in a pre-season spectacle at Soldier Field in Chicago. It was the creation of Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward, who also invented baseball’s All-Star game. By the time it was stopped, it had become a yawner. If it was revived now, though, it might be interesting.

Imagine how a combined team of the best players from Clemson and Alabama would fare. If you threw in some guys from Oklahoma, Ohio State and a few others. . . that would keep Bill Belichick at the office late.

@ Just for the heck of it, here’s a look at my TMG pre-season Sweet 16, and how it stacked up against the final AP poll and the pre-season AP poll.

It’s a little skewed because the AP ranks the Top 25. So I have noted who was not in top 16 of the AP pre-season poll.

I had the top three finishers; the AP did not. The pollsters were closer on Oklahoma and Michigan; I was closer on Notre Dame.

We both missed badly by over-rating Miami, Wisconsin and Michigan State. And by not seeing surprises like Kentucky and Syracuse.

I will say this: My pre-season hunches about Texas and Florida were good ones. If only I’d remembered that while picking against the spread during the season. . .

And now, time to enjoy college hoops. Which is predictable, but less so than college football.

Final AP Top 16, followed by my pre-season and AP pre-season rankings.

1, Clemson 2 2

2, Alabama 1 1

3, Ohio State 3 5

4, Oklahoma 12 7

5, Notre Dame 7 12

6, LSU NR NR in top 16 (25)

7, Florida 16 NR

7, Georgia 4 3

9, Texas 13 NR (23)

10, Wash. St. NR NR

11, UCF NR NR (21)

12, Kentucky NR NR

13, Washington 6 6

14, Michigan 8 14

15, Syracuse NR NR

16, Texas A&M NR NR

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