It’s been one heck of a ride so far, but by the time our initial field of 32 college football teams boiled down to 6, we have ourselves some of the greatest squads to ever step onto the gridiron left. Starting it off is a modern-day classic featuring the last two national champions – 2019 LSU and 2018 Clemson – battling for the right to face 2012 Alabama in the Bracket A final. In Bracket B, 2013 Florida State has slogged their way through the loser’s bracket, winning two straight overtime clashes, to set up a battle with 2009 Alabama. The winner of that will face the daunting task of having to defeat 2001 Miami – who has only trailed for a total of 3 minutes and 22 seconds in four games so far. Twice. They have to defeat them twice. It’s a tough road ahead, but let’s see what happens in our final pre-championship round.
Bracket A Semifinals
1. 2019 LSU vs. 2. 2018 Clemson
Clemson 34 LSU 33
This one lived up to the hype. LSU took the early edge, 23-21 at halftime, but Clemson rallied in front by a 31-30 margin at the end of the third quarter. Joe Burrow hit Ja’Marr Chase for a 39-yard gain, and Clyde Edwards-Hillaire broke off a 15-yard run, as LSU snuck into the red zone near the halfway mark of the final quarter. However, Clemson’s defense stiffened, and Burrow’s 6-yard scramble on 3rd and 8 left the Tigers two yards short at the Clemson 8-yard line. Cade York drilled a 25-yard field goal, but with 4:49 to play, Clemson only trailed by two.
Clemson’s drive looked destined to stall, but an 18-yard scramble from Lawrence extended the drive on 3rd down, and Etienne ripped off a 41-yard run to bring Clemson to the red zone with 1:53 to play. LSU had just one timeout, which was burned on an Etienne run, and Clemson worked the clock down under a minute before kicking a field goal to take the lead. Burrow was left with 47 seconds and no timeouts and couldn’t make any magic happen, getting to the Clemson 49 before heaving up a Hail Mary that fell to the ground. And with that Hail Mary ended the infallible 2019 season of LSU, who dropped two straight games after dancing dangerously through three one-score victories.
Bracket A Championship
7. 2012 Alabama vs. 2. 2018 Clemson
Alabama 23 Clemson 21
Another great game, but 2012 Alabama stays undefeated. The 7th-seeded darkhorse Crimson Tide have rolled their way through bracket A and into the championship, behind the strength of their ferocious backfield, headlinged by Eddie Lacy, Kenny Drake, and T.J. Yeldon. Lacy did the damage in this one, leading the way with 92 rushing yards and a touchdown, while quarterback A.J. McCarron was his usually efficient himself, limiting mistakes and throwing for 174 yards and a score. Clemson got 105 rushing yards from Travis Etienne, but they rarely had the ball, holding possession for just 21 minutes and 35 seconds of game time.
Bracket B Semifinals
3. 2009 Alabama vs. 4. 2013 Florida State
Alabama 37 Florida State 28
After crawling past two consecutive opponents in overtime, Florida State’s magic ran out. The Seminoles jumped out to a halftime lead, but they quite simply ran out of gas. In typical Nick Saban and Alabama fashion, the Crimson Tide controlled the contest with a ground-and-pound attack, racking up over 350 yards, led by 180 from Mark Ingram, who also found the end zone three times. Trent Richardson chipped in with 92 yards and a touchdown for the Tide, who trailed 28-27 entering the fourth quarter before completing their comeback.
Bracket B Championship
1. 2001 Miami vs. 3. 2009 Alabama
Miami 24 Alabama 23
This was an excruciating loss for the Crimson Tide. Not only because of their elimination, but because of how it went down. Miami trailed 23-17 with 2:17 to play, but Ken Dorsey connected with Ethenic Sands for 28 yards on the opening play of their drive, bringing them to the Alabama 47. However, Dorsey was hit hard on the play and was unable to return. The Hurricanes summoned backup quarterback Brock Berlin in, who proceeded to dice the Crimson Tide defense, going 5-5 for 31 yards. With 17 seconds to play and a timeout to burn, Berlin handed off to Clinton Portis from the 5-yard line, and the legendary Miami running back did the rest, breaking a tackle at the 2 and extending the ball over the line for a game-winning touchdown. The Hurricanes are 5-0 and into the championship round, where they will have to take down another Alabama team – the 2012 version – in a best-of-three series.