THE GRUDGE REPORT/CFB Proves Once Again That It Is Unique

College football is still the best bargain in all of sports

As late as Saturday afternoon, the chatter you heard in the world of college football was that this was going to be a predictable end to an unremarkable season.

Alabama, which had already been anointed as the current and future national champion, merely had to take care of Georgia in its Southeastern Conference championship game, before dealing with the next obstacles--the CFB Final Four.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, was such a prohibitive favorite to win the Heisman Trophy that the boys from Vegas had stopped taking bets on the Award winner.

But then they again played games on Saturday and a funny thing happened. The Tide went from unbeatable to vulnerable and Tua not only was injured, but actually looked ""human'' before he finally was forced out of the game with an ankle injury, with the Tide losing by a pair of TDs.

That's why they actually play the games folks. And that is why college football, despite all of its flaws--and it has many--remains the best entertainment value in sports, filled with drama on a weekly and sometimes daily basis.

Where do you want to start?

Let's start with the pre-season rankings.

Yes, Alabama and Clemson began the season ranked No. 1 and No. 2 and ended it the same way, with a possible match up in the CFB championship game in Santa Clara, Calif. next month a real possibility.

But Wisconsin was No. 4, Miami was 8, Auburn was No. 9, Penn State was 10 and Michigan State was No. 11. Those five teams had a combined record of 37-23 and everyone but Penn State (9-3) had five losses. Conversely, Notre Dame started the season ranked No. 12, but finished No. 3 with a 12-0 record.

Sure the favorites reigned most weeks, but pre season powers such as Miami and even more so Florida State and Virginia Tech both struggled. FSU was so bad that it missed a bowl appearance for the first time in 36 years. Virginia Tech lost to an Old Dominion team, which finished with a 4-8 record and needed to schedule a game last week against Marshall to become bowl eligible with 6 wins

Oklahoma, which overpowered teams each week with what has been correctly as an ""historic'' offense, had its most offensive problems with Army and had to go to into overrtime to beat the Cadets. Army had the best defensive game plan of the season for the Sooners: don't let them have the ball. The Cadets had three scoring drives which consumed almost 30 minutes of game time.

UCF proved that last year's 13-0 season was no fluke, by going unbeaten again.

There were countless other moments during the season, which added flavor. The on-going soap opera at Ohio State, involving coach Urban Meyer, the return to glory (for now) of Notre Dame, the collapse in varying degrees of FSU, Virginia Tech and Miami, the marvelous stories of success at Army and Washington State.

Now we have 40 bowl games to munch on during the next five weeks, with some intriguing match ups--UCF vs. LSU in the Fiesta Bowl on January 1 is a nice way to start the New Year.

Some things will go as usual, but there will be surprises, perhaps as early as this week when the Heisman is awarded. Tua probably will still win, but it is far from a sure thing as Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins and Oklahoma's Tyler Murray both had spectacular games in leading their teams to conference championships.

Alabama, with Tua injured (although the Tide back up is veteran Jalen Hurts (the hero of the Tide comeback against Georgia) is not quite the mortal lock to win two more games it was three days ago.

You add the normal pageantry, pre-game hype--both good and bad-, the ongoing controversy over whether this four team playoff system is better than the old BCS or needs to be expanded to six or eight teams, and you have a sport which is unique in so many ways and still the best overall bargain for its fans in sports..

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