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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: Congratulations To Alabama Edition

Alabama wins a hard-fought CFB championship, and the Wildcats welcome Mississippi St. to Rupp Arena.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies. Today’s two big stories are Kentucky’s game tonight against the Mississippi St. Bulldogs, and the Alabama Crimson Tide holding on to defeat the Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff championship game.

First, a few words about the football game — I hope you didn’t miss it, because it was absolutely captivating. It had everything you could ever want in a college game, and all at various times — great offense, great defense, big plays, special teams shockers — the works.

Nick Saban has now won four “national championships” (scare quotes in deference to the detractors of the various formats in which they have been decided over the years) at Alabama and one at LSU, making him among the most successful college football coaches in history and arguably in the top two or three. There will be endless debate about the impact of the format changes over time on the difficulty of accomplishing this feat, but for my money, he is right up there with the greatest and still has what looks like a lot of years left to add to that legacy.

Honestly, I thought Clemson played a great game, and they were just one big play away from upsetting the modestly-favored Tide. For a team that gets less big-time talent than the Alabama juggernaut, the Tigers had the best offense and, for much of the game, the better defense. Unfortunately, red-zone scoring gave them just enough trouble, along with an untimely turnover that led to an Alabama touchdown.

I’ve always liked Dabo Swinney, and his Clemson team played well enough to win. Yes, Saban and the Tide pulled out a totally unexpected and magical onside kick, possibly the best execution of that play I’ve ever witnessed at any level, and you can easily argue that special teams cost Clemson the game. But despite giving up that play and a returned kickoff for touchdown, the Tigers were likely only one possession away from victory. This has to be one of the top two or three top-stakes football games I’ve ever seen.

Great game. Too bad one of those fine teams had to lose.

As for tonight’s game against Mississippi State, Ken Pomeroy likes Kentucky to the tune of 81-67, and based on the fact that MSU has yet to defeat a team inside the top 100 in college basketball, I think that’s a fair prognostication for the outcome facing a top 15 team on the road.

But Kentucky’s problem is and has been inconsistency. When they all come to play, nobody is really better save perhaps Kansas and Oklahoma. But when they just show up, the Wildcats are an inferior, guard-oriented team who struggles to take care of the ball, lays more bricks than an entire mason's union local, can’t rebound well defensively, and executes the offense at random. Hopefully, they’ll do more than just show up tonight.

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