Mark Clark: Still way too early, but Bama is the preseason favorite

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The preseason college football magazines are starting to hit the newsstands at full force. Pick a newsstand anywhere right now and there are at least three or four magazines expressing their selections for the upcoming college football season’s National Champions.

Alabama defeated Georgia in overtime for the title last year. It was the first time the title had been decided with an overtime period. Even though Alabama should have won the game in regulation, the game ended with the best team winning. Yes, I know many of you disagree, but that is the truth. Alabama missed three field goals – any of which, if made, would have given the Crimson Tide the victory without the overtime period. \

Even though you might not agree with which team won, you cannot deny the National Championship game was one of the most exciting title tilt ever. Tua Tagovaloa’s pass to DeVonta Smith for the game-winning touchdown will be forever immortalized with a Daniel Moore painting. The game-winning pass was equivalent to a walk-off homerun in baseball. Enough said.

This season, there is a good chance Alabama may return to the title game and its opponent could be Clemson – as it was two and three years ago – or Georgia – its opponent last season. That is not my opinion. It just seems to be the opinion of the preseason magazines.

Athlon Sports, which claims to be the “largest and most accurate” preseason magazine with its predictions, has Alabama playing Clemson as its pick for the title game. It ranks Alabama No. 1 going into the season and Clemson at No. 2. Georgia is the No. 3 pick for Athlon followed in the Top 10 by Ohio State, Michigan, Miami, Auburn, Washington, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. Not a bad Top 10.

The Sporting News has Alabama at No. 1, Clemson at No. 2 and Georgia at No. 3. The rest of the Top 10 mirrors the Top 10 of Athlon, but not in the same order. The rest in order are Ohio State, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Washington, Auburn, Notre Dame and Penn State. Miami and Michigan get the next two spots after being replaced by Notre Dame and Penn State in the Top 10. I agree with Penn State being in the Top 10, but not Notre Dame. I did not see where there was any prediction as to which team The Sporting News felt would win the National Championship.

Street & Smith’s has almost the same teams in the Top 10 as the others. Alabama is No. 1, Clemson No. 2, Ohio State No. 3 and Georgia No. 4. Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Washington, Miami, Michigan and Penn State round out the Top 10 of the preseason poll. So, Auburn and Notre Dame are out and Miami and Michigan are back in the Top 10.

Sports Illustrated has Georgia at No. 1, Alabama No. 2, Clemson No. 3 and Ohio State at No. 4. Here is a surprise at No. 5 – Auburn. This is the highest ranking for the Tigers in any preseason poll. The rest are Wisconsin, Penn State, Oklahoma, Miami and Virginia Tech.

Going outside of the magazines to see what other polls are predicting, I found CBS, ESPN and USA Today to have the same basic teams in their Top 10s. CBS has Alabama No. 1, Clemson No. 2, Georgia No. 3 and Ohio State at No. 4. CBS has a new team in the Top 10 at No. 5 – Michigan State. The rest are Wisconsin, Penn State, Oklahoma and Miami. ESPN has Alabama No. 1, Clemson No. 2, Ohio State No. 3 and Georgia No. 4. Oklahoma, Washington, Wisconsin, Miami, Michigan State and Michigan are the rest. That poll put four teams – Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Michigan State – from the Big Ten in the Top 10. I do not know who came up with the Top 10 for USA Today, but it is a bit goofy compared with the rest of the polls cited here. Clemson is No. 1, Alabama is No. 2, Wisconsin is No. 3 and Washington is No. 4. The rest in order are Ohio State, Georgia, Oklahoma, TCU, Penn State and Miami. Really? TCU is in the Top 10 and Wisconsin and Washington replace Ohio State and Georgia in the Top 4?

If USA Today can list a goofy Top 10, then no one can argue with the Top 10 teams I see falling in line by the end of the 2018 season. My Top 10 has Alabama at No. 1, Georgia No. 2, Clemson No. 3. Ohio State No. 4, Auburn No. 5, Penn State No. 6, Michigan State No. 7, Miami No. 8, LSU No. 9 and Michigan No. 10 are the rest. That is four teams from the SEC, four from the Big Ten and two from the ACC.

Okay, the four playoff teams will be Alabama. Georgia, Clemson and Ohio State. Alabama will play Ohio State while Clemson will face Georgia. In the National Championship game, Alabama will face Clemson and the winner will be . . .

Well, it is just too early to make that determination. Let’s just wait to see what really happens. College football is a funny beast that no one can really control.

Mark Clark is a local sports writer for 

The Citizen of East Alabama.