Alabama will take on Clemson for the fourth straight year in the CFP and third year in the College Football championship game on Tuesday, Jan. 7 from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Alabama leads the series at 14-4 and has won 14 of the last 15 meetings. Last season, the Crimson Tide dominated the Tigers, 24-6 in the Sugar Bowl in the CFP semifinal game of 2017-18.
No. 2 Tigers are are looking for revenge
Ok, you can say that about just about every team that has to face Alabama the next season or the same season. That teams always seek revenge against Alabama. They set the standard for championship teams in college football, but Clemson is more than just a bridesmaid. Ask Notre Dame, who faced the Tigers last Saturday, Dec. 29. The previous unbeaten Fighting Irish opened the game with a 40-yard field goal by Greg Huegel in the first quarter and never came close to scoring again. Clemson scored 30 unanswered points on their way to a 30-3 win.
Not bad for a team with a freshman quarterback. Trevor Lawrence showed no nerves in his first playoff game, completing 27 of 39 for 327 yards and three TDs with no interceptions. Running back Travis Etienne had his third straight 100-yard game with 109 on 14 carries. He comes into this one with 1,573 rushing yards and 23 overall touchdowns. Lawrence has 2,933 yards passing with 27 TDs and just four picks (65.3%).
But as good as the offense is, the defense is simply dominant. They rank fifth in the nation in yards per game allowed (280.7ypg), 16th in passing yards allowed (182.1ypg), third against the run (98.6ypg) and second in points allowed per game (12.9ppg) This will be their biggest challenge of the season even though they held a very good Notre Dame offense to just 248 total yards.
The Tigers will probably be without star DT Dexter Lawrence, who missed the Cotton Bowl due to a PED suspension, though a late appeal might change that. The Tigers didn’t miss the 350-pounder against Notre Dame but could use his talents against a rugged Alabama running game.
Head coach Dabo Swinney has done a fantastic job with the Tigers. He doesn’t apologize for his team’s success or Alabama with Nick Saban.
“I’m not going to apologize for having a great team and a great program and a bunch of committed guys, and Coach Saban is not, either,” Swinney said. “The objective is to get the two best teams. That’s kind of the way it is. If that’s not best for college football, then why did we even do it?”
If Swinney wins another title, does he move up to the next level?
Offense is too much for Oklahoma
The Crimson Tide had a 31-10 lead with 25 seconds left in the first half and it looked like another blowout win for Alabama against the Sooners. But Oklahoma woke up in the second half, scoring 24 points, led by Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray. The Tide won the game and the battle, 45-34, to advance to another title game. But Murray was sensational, throwing for 308 yards with two TDs and rushing for 109 yards and a score.
Give Alabama credit though. Tua Tagovailoa was as accurate as you can be as a quarterback, completing 24 of 27 for 318 yards and four TDs. If not for an injury and a bad game against Georgia in the SEC title game, he would have won the Heisman trophy over Murray.
It also helps to have outstanding receivers led by Devonta Smith (6 catches for 104 yds, 1 TD vs. Sooners) and Jerry Jeudy, who has 63 catches for 1,176 yards and 13 TDs. Jeudy is just a sophomore and has already won the Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s top receiver.
Head coach Nick Saban is also the difference in most games. He’s the best coach in college football over the last decade.
What makes Alabama so dominant is their balance. They have the 35th-ranked rushing game (202ypg), the seventh-ranked passing game (325.6ypg) and rank second in points per game (47.7). Defensively, they rank 12th in yards allowed per game (308.7), 23rd against the pass (187.6ypg) and 20th against the run (121.1ypg).
- 1-5 ATS last 6 in January.
- 8-1 ATS last 9 bowl games.
- 5-1 ATS last 6 after an ATS win.
- 13-3 ATS last 16 neutral site games.
- 7-2 ATS last 9 overall.
- 5-2 Under last 7 bowl games.
- 11-5 Under last 16 after a SU win of more than 20 points.
- 8-2 Under last 10 after an ATS win.