College football is still months away, and while that's literally eating away at all of our souls, the sports gods have been pretty good to us lately. We just finished up one of the greatest NBA Finals ever, and the U.S. made a semifinal run in Copa America.
We're also nearing the end of what has been a spectacular Euro 2016 over in France. Futbol -- I mean soccer -- is growing more and more in popularity over here in the States, and even college football's best haven't been strangers to showing their growing interest in the sport over the years.
Like the SEC blog did with the World Cup two years ago, we thought it'd be fun to figure out the college football equivalents to the Euro's final eight.
I wonder if college football will adopt the jersey swapping tradition.
Alabama: No matter what, deep down you feel like these are the teams to beat. Germany just won the World Cup and Alabama just won the national championship. Both are loaded with talent, their defenses are suffocating and they both have overcome slow starts to hit their offensive strides late. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (the best in the world at his position) can pretty much be linked to just about every middle linebacker Nick Saban has coached at Alabama. Germany has seven combined World Cup and Euro championships, while Alabama claims roughly 151 national championships.
Ohio State: Both of these squads have tons of talent all over the place, but that talent is young, and you aren't really sure how far it can go. However, it's tough not to get excited about two teams that have the pieces to win it all right now. France was a favorite coming into the tournament, and the Buckeyes will be a playoff favorite as well. Quarterback J.T. Barrett's rise, importance and style of play at Ohio State essentially makes him Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet rolled into one.
LSU: Both squads always have elite, championship-level talent. You just can't help but want to pick both to win something exceptional each year. However, with all that talent have come disappointing finishes. Total hype killers. Leonard Fournette and Cristiano Ronaldo are considered by many to be the best in their respective sports, but Fournette and his Tigers sank after his Heisman train was derailed in early November last season, and Ronaldo has zero Euro or World Cup championships with Portugal.
Clemson: The Tigers own one of the most exciting, fast-paced offenses led by Heisman front-runner quarterback Deshaun Watson and running back Wayne Gallman. Belgium also has one of the world's most exciting, fast-paced offenses led by Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard. Both clearly have the talent to win a title this year, but both can struggle with defensive consistency. Remember, Clemson surrendered at least 5.7 yards per play in seven games last year, including a season-high 6.7 in the national championship loss to Alabama.
USC: Two storied programs with pasts full of titles, but heading into 2016, both are being overlooked as title contenders. Italy's surprise run into the final eight -- and that 2-0 upset of Spain -- would resemble a Clay Helton-led USC run this fall. Like Italy, outside of a couple of stars (JuJu Smith-Schuster and Adoree' Jackson), you aren't sure if the Trojans have the talent to win a title, but it's still hard to overlook them.
Ole Miss: Both teams have a few household names that people will recognize. Chad Kelly is the Gareth Bale for Ole Miss, while Aaron Ramsey could represent top defensive end Marquis Haynes. But what are really expecting from either this year? Hugh Freeze has certainly built up Ole Miss to a true SEC West contender, but are we ready to put the Rebels in the playoff in 2016? And is Wales really gonna win it all? Like, really?
Michigan State: Two tough, gritty teams that are more than happy to methodically grind it out until the bitter end. Neither gets a ton of respect (which Michigan State loves), but we kind of like what they are. However, not many really know a ton about either. Everyone knows Poland's Robert Lewandowski, and everyone knew Michigan State's Connor Cook. But outside of die-hard fans, can you seriously name more than five starters for either? No, yet they still have some solid guys who can carry them in crunch time.
Georgia Southern: Cinderella. Iceland has the smallest population in the tournament and qualified for the first time ever, while knocking off some big boys in the process. The most recent is England, which would be 2013 Florida. Iceland winning it all would be like Georgia Southern, which is new to the FBS level, winning it all in a magical playoff run in 2016. Not gonna happen, but, man, it would be awesome.