College football dynasties past and present convened in Atlanta Saturday to show us the future doesn’t look any different.
Top-ranked Alabama dominated No. 14 Miami from start to finish in the familiar setting of Mercedes Benz Stadium, putting to rest concerns that this latest edition may be a work of progress.
Racing to a big first-half lead, Alabama cruised to a 44-13 record-setting victory, with first-time starting quarterback Bryce Young set school records for aerial yards and touchdowns in a debut.
Don’t forget the NFL claimed most of the Tide’s 2020 offensive talent, including three of the top five Heisman Trophy finishers.
But against what’s projected to be one of the best defenses in the ACC, a fresh-face offense moved seemingly against air.
The never-rushed Young mixed precise passes with nimble moves within the pocket. John Metchie III immediately seemed comfortable in the role of WR1. Brian Robinson looked more than capable as the lead running back. And a reshuffled offensive line provided a consistent push up front and solid protection.
The reason for concern?
Miami has the brand name and a legendary past, plus a quarterback who’s one of the most dynamic in college football. But D’Eriq King spent most of the day trying to escape a collapsing pocket — and a ravenous Will Anderson. A rebuilt knee due to an injury that short-circuited King’s 2020 season may have been a factor. But with the Alabama defense dominating up front, bionic knees probably wouldn’t have helped.
And perhaps the cruelest twist for the Hurricanes came early in the second half after King finally found some time to throw. He moved the Hurricanes right down the field, but a chance to cut the deficit to 27-10 ended with a goal-line stand inside the 1.
Three plays later, after just escaping a potential safety, Young tossed a 94-yard bomb to Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams.
Alabama has been college football’s most dominant team going on 13 seasons. Looks like that’s not changing.
How the Tide attempts to chase another College Football Playoff bid could look like a blast from the past.
Saturday’s effort was more of a return to Joyless Murderball — a methodical offense sapping clock and rolling up points buoyed by a defense that plays angry. College football has changed to much in the past decade. It’s all offense, now.
But against Miami, Alabama looked like it was turning the clock back to the early 2010s.
Likewise, Miami was trying to turn the clock back, as well. But a Hurricanes dynasty that unceremoniously came to an end thanks to Alabama in the 1993 Sugar Bowl looks like a distant memory.
For all the glamor, the South Beach vibe and the gaudy turnover chain, the Hurricanes aren’t a match for elite teams up front. Not on either side of the ball.
A Saturday afternoon in the ATL hinted that while the methods will change the results won’t. Not for the dynasty present, nor the dynasty past.
Doug Segrest, a former SEC beat reporter, is a freelance columnist.