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The CFP Finals Potluck: The Midwesterners take on the south

Who Are You Rooting for, Clemson or Alabama? Our Big Ten Writers answer this question and more.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

While it would have been a lot of fun to be talking about the Michigan State Spartans representing the conference in the CFP Finals, or really any Big Ten team, it was not meant to be. Instead it is the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide. And so, with one major college football game left, it was time to get the 'writers' opinions on an upcoming football game one last time. In the great Midwest tradition of the potluck, we are honoring our southern friends with a distinctly south feel. All that in mind, we bring you the Off Tackle Empire CFP Championship Potluck. We talk movie villains, storylines, Clemsoning, star power, and make picks. It's been a great ride this season, and we hope that you'll enjoy this all the way to the end.

via All Recipes

Appetizer: Devils on Horseback

So the Big Ten will not win every CFP ever, which is sort of lame, but everyone - MSU fans not included - be honest, you weren't rooting for Sparty anyways. Anyhow, the CFP Title game brings us some really interesting storylines. Dabo vs Saban, Crimson Tide vs. Clemson Tide, Alabama's defense against Deshaun Watson, the fact that Lane Kiffin might actually be good... See, so many storylines. From sort of a 10,000 foot view, what do you see as the most important aspect of this game going in? What should we all be looking for before the game even starts?

Graham Filler: It’s all been about Bama for the last few years. Is Alabama peaking? Does the Alabama team look interested in winning? Can the other team compete athletically with Alabama? That’s my sky high look at this game.

Andrew Kraszewski: I now regard Alabama as Hydra; graduate one unearthly swamp monster, two more rise to take his place. So whether they can ever truly be defeated remains to be seen. The big question in whether we see an entertaining game or another Tide roll is whether Clemson's OL can stand up to the Tide front. Bama's going to score. The question is if Watson has the time and space to use his considerable talent to make some plays on this defense. MSU certainly wasn't up to the task. Maybe the Tigers will be.

Aaron Yorke: Since the No. 1 and No. 2 teams won so convincingly, is it time to go back to the BCS and not make everyone watch football on New Year's Eve? Does the rise of Clemson along with the recent title win by Florida State make the ACC an elite football conference? Is it even possible for the SEC to go three years without a championship?

MNWildcat: How drunk I can get during the game. You should be looking to see if I've fallen off my barstool by kickoff. That's about all I got for ya.

insertname: Go Clemson

Candystripes for Breakfast: I mean, the SEC Narrative (TM) has to be the big thing, right? Either it shatters with Clemson taking down a very strong looking Bama team, or it ramps right back up to where it was a couple years ago.

87townie: I hate the SEC far more than I hate most of the B1G, so I was, in fact, rooting for Sparty. The story line I’m most concerned with is the SEC Titan ‘Bama vs the much weaker ACC Champ Clemson. It’s a David vs Goliath story, with David known for hitting himself in the foot with his own slingstones.

StewMonkey13: Before the game starts?  I'd say any suspensions.  But I think there are two things:  1. Can Clemson stop Henry without giving up giant passing plays?  2.  Can Deshaun Watson break down the 'Bama defense?

GoForThree: Like it or not, this will absolutely become the story of the SEC regaining its rightful place atop the sport, and the obnoxious lining will be the nonstop fellating of Dabo Swinney as being a disciple and product of the Saban dynasty.


Salad: 24 Hour Salad

Graham brought up an excellent question: what movie/TV villain would you compare the Alabama Defensive Line to?

GF: The Borg. Huge. Hated by all. Dominant.

AK: Haha, didn't even see this was the next question. As my answer to #1 indicates, the Tide are totally Hydra. No matter how many studs they graduate, there are always more to take their place.

AY: The aliens from Independence Day, because they destroy everything in their path. Peace? There is no peace.

MNW: The Iceland team from D2: Mighty Ducks. They're bigger, they're faster, they're stronger, and you're going to have to pull out all the stops to beat them. Also, Nick Saban reminds me a lot of Wolf "The Dentist" Stansson.

C4B: Cobra Kai, although that's probably a better metaphor for the entire team.

87townie: Cain Marko…aka Juggernaut. These guys seem to get better with success. Doesn’t matter how far into the game they are. If they get rolling, you can’t stop them. They throw linemen around like tackling dummies.

StewMonkey13: USA recently re-aired all of Mr. Robot, so I was able to DVR it all, and just started watching it. I'd say they're Evil Corp. Truly big, powerful, and scary, and only insane people take them on.

G43: Mecha-Hitler from Wolfenstein 3D

via Food Network

Side Dish: Collard Greens

Graham's follow up question is this: In light of the recent string of success, is 'clemsoning' a word that needs to be scrubbed from the collective conscious? More importantly, is it possible to completely reappropriate these sports memes or are you just inevitably going to end back at "Sparty, No!"?

GF: Clemsoning needs to be scrubbed. It’s not been around that long and now with Clemson looking increasingly stable and dominant, it doesn’t make any sense. It was an overblown meme anyways; you want to talk about true Clemsoning? Hello Buffalo Bills 1990’s. Oh dammit I used the term didn’t I.

AK: I don't hear many Sparty, No! taunts anymore, not even when it's warranted like after the Nebraska game. And why all the shitting on MSU? NONE OF Y'ALL BEAT THE TIDE EITHER.

AY: The New York Mets just won the pennant, but I'll bet you anything that "LOLMets" returns at the first sign of trouble. Clemsoning will live on as well.

MNW: I want "Sparty No!" to always be a thing. Same with "Clemsoning." Say that you've overcome it all you want, but it's always there. Always waiting. And someday soon, we will have another "Sparty No!"

insertname: Clemsoning is when Clemson loses to a crap team in a let down game after a big, emotional win. The avoided a Clemsoning this year but they'll have opportunities to do so again.

C4B: If your school has done something so inept as to earn its own nickname, you are never, ever getting rid of that meme. I'm sorry, it's not happening, we had a meeting, and you got outvoted.

87townie: These terms transcend their origins. Clemsoning will always be a way to describe a high-flying team that loses a dumb game. For example, remember that time Michigan got Clemsoned by App State? That was hilarious!

Sparty No! was in full effect in that Alabama game too. So no…these terms are part of the lexicon. Someone should update wiki and urban dictionary to reflect that.

StewMonkey13: It is, until it isn't, and then maybe will be again.

GF3: One great season does not a Clemson unmake.

Main Dish: South Carolina Pulled Pork

There is legitimately a ton of star power in this game. Deshaun Watson, Derrick Henry, Reggie Ragland, A'Shawn Robinson, Shaw Lawson, Ryan Kelly, and those are just the Coach's All-Americans. That in mind, what player is the best player in this game?

GF: I do love watching the ‘Bama interior defense battle. Just some big ol’ boys doing violently athletic things. Waves and waves.

AK: A'Shawn Robinson is disgustingly good. I don't know if he's quite a Marcel Dareus, but against college offensive lines it's hard to pick out a difference.

AY: Watson has rushed for over 100 yards in five of Clemson's last six games. Oh, and he's also an elite QB who is averaging over eight yards per throw while completing 68 percent of his passes this year.

MNW: The punter. Right? It's always the punter. I was told this was the goddamn Big Ten blog.

C4B: Until proven otherwise (or until Saban and Kiffin run him to severe injury), it's Henry. He is a beast.

87townie: Derrick Henry is a legitimate Heisman Winner (sorry for those folks calling him a fraud in the MSU/Bama thread…you were wrong). You saw what he did to Calhoun…one of the better defenders in the B1G this year.

StewMonkey13: Probably a lineman, but that's not really all that much fun.  I'll say Watson, though for star power.

GF3: Mark my words: it's gonna be Jake Coker. The kid found a level of play he hadn't touched in the past and used it to destroy MSU. Just wait until Clemson attacks the run game and challenges Coker to beat them...and he does it.

via Mom Loves Baking

Dessert 1: Alabama Lane Cake

While most Big Ten fans are rooting firmly for Team Meteor, let's put our differences aside and talk about who we would like to win and why. For me, I legitimately enjoy watching Watson run around and make plays, and it would be fun for Alabama to lose in the playoffs twice. But hey, you might hate Dabo. I get it. Who are you rooting for?

GF: Root for Clemson! Stop the "SEC Dominance" concept! Get some new blood on the scene!

AK: Clemson! I want to see Clemson win. First of all because the Cotton Bowl reminded me just how much Saban grinds my gears, but second because watching the bully win is no damn fun. Think of a movie you saw where the villain won. Did you enjoy that movie? Want to watch it again with your kids someday? No, because that's not how our psyche works. War damn Tigers.

AY: Bama, because rooting for the heel is more fun.

MNW: Clemson. I heard Dabo on Mike & Mike on Wednesday morning, and there was about him. Is that a stupid measure of preference? Sure! But give me Dabo and his odd brand of joy mixed with Southern evangelism and Alabama illiteracy over Sabanbot any day.

insertname: Clemson because I know a couple of good Clemson people and they would be ecstatic.

C4B: #AnyoneButTheSEC

87townie: I hate the SEC, did I say that already? I live in SEC country. If you want to know what that’s like for a Big Ten fan, just go watch that video of the Tennessee fan ripping Northwestern’s football program. Or go read that SEC troll’s comments in the Mailbag.

Fuck ‘Bama. Go Dabo!

StewMonkey13: Clemson.  I would get almost endless pleasure in a guy named Dabo beating Saban in a NCG.  It's patently ridiculous, and hilarious.

GF3: " would be fun for Alabama to lose in the playoffs twice." That's all that needs to be said, Jesse. Plus I'd hate for all those Tennessee fans to have to put their UT jackets away and revert to their backup Bama garb for another year.

via Southern Living

Dessert 2, because Dessert: Peach Pecan Cobbler

Obligatory pick time. Who you got?

GF: ‘Bama 31-17

AK: Le sigh. Roll tide by about two scores.

AY: Bama, 24-14

MNW: Alabama, 38-10. Sabanbot crushes your joy.

insertname: Bama because narratives need to be re-established

C4B: Tide roll 48-20.

87townie: Bama is going to murdolate em. Let’s just hope that it’s worse than the egg MSU laid.

StewMonkey13: 'Bama is probably going to win.  Saban will not rest until he's suffocated the fun out of college football.