Many recruiting writers love nothing more than to extoll the importance of recruiting. It's rather self-serving, honestly, as they are basically pumping up the content they produce as the be-all and end-all of football analysis and coverage.
Consequently, Alabama result against Michigan State is being heralded by some as the triumph of recruiting over development. It's not, in reality, but is instead the triumph of well-coached exceptional talent over well-coached good talent. Call me back when a decently-coached team of 4/5-star underclassmen take down Michigan State.
However, there's no doubt that Alabama looked like a terrifying dreadnought in that game. There were two aspects to their victory which were particularly horrifying and which should keep Dabo Sweeney up at night over the next week.
First was the pass-rush that Alabama put on Connor Cook. Jonathan Allen should be a first day draft choice and his ability to get pressure inside on Sparty's OL completely ruined their entire offensive scheme, particularly their normally very effective pass down defense which depends on spread sets.
Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson are also both effective pass-rushers, Alabama hasn't had anyone like any of these guys since the last time they won a title, and they made mince-meat of Sparty's right tackle Kody Kieler.
I'll have to see how they fared against OU's DL but I'm not initially optimistic about the ability of Clemson's OL to stand up to these guys and keep Deshaun Watson clean.
The other horrifying aspect of the game was how well Jacob Coker responded to the inevitable challenge from Dantonio to win the game without simply handing off to Derrick Henry 30x and watching him run for 200+ yards.
25-30 passing at 9.5 ypa is no joke, and his ability to avoid interceptions (or intentional grounding calls) hearkened back to Saban Alabama QBs of old who have always played with well-drilled turnover-avoidance habits in big games.
I detailed before the game how Alabama would need to attack the schwerpunkt of the Spartan defensive structure to relieve pressure off the run game and score points, or else run the ball into loaded fronts.
They did this most effectively with Coker connecting deep to the slot receivers, which is the best way to attack aggressive quarters teams like Sparty, and completely rolled up the Spartan phalanx. Coker was accurate and hit a few tight windows over the course of the game. Clemson should be concerned.
The other side of the bracket went more or less how you might have expected. Watson was given repeated chances to run the ball and went for 145 yards on a Sooner front that was pretty beat up and exhausted before the third quarter even began.
Losing Charles Walker surely hurt the Sooners badly, as did the long-true fact that they play a 3-4 defense but feature athletes at ILB rather than stone-walling dudes like Reggie Ragland or Reuben Foster who can stop the forward progress of a climbing guard or power-back. That doesn't tend to matter much in the Big 12 but it matters in the playoffs.
They also got bit by the injury bug, with RBs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon both going down over the course of the game and leaving Baker Mayfield to try and beat a good Clemson secondary and pass-rush by himself. But there was no doubt in this game that Clemson was a superior squad and they physically beat the tar out of the Sooners for four quarters. Stoops' squads have never handled that particularly well over his tenure.
Clemson will now try to bring their QB-run game against the Tide in the hopes that Saban still doesn't have the answers for this style of offense. There's going to be a lot of people pushing the idea that he doesn't and that this is the way to take down the Tide...I think the actual result of this game is probably less exciting than that.