Alabama-Clemson: Part IV. The two powers meet in the National Championship game. Find a prediction and preview below.
The College Football Playoff is in is fifth year. This is the fourth time coach Nick Saban and the Tide and coach Dabo Swinney and the Tigers have played in the CFP. This will be the third time it's for the title, this time dueling at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Alabama-Clemson: National Championship prediction, preview
Through all the twists and turns during the months-long college football regular season, this matchup always seemed like a potential option.
Alabama vs. Clemson...or Clemson vs. Alabama.
The two 14-0 teams have barely been tested this season. Those close games (Clemson vs. Syracuse, 'Bama vs. Georgia) stand out because they were so shocking.
With QB Tua Tagovailoa and his 3,671 yards and 41 touchdowns, Alabama has the best offense its had during this incredible run of five national titles going back to the 2009 season. Since 2015, Alabama is 55-3 with loses to Ole Miss, Auburn and Clemson. That's it.
Not that Clemson is that far behind. The Tigers are 54-4 since 2015, losing to Alabama twice, Pitt and Syracuse.
The Tigers have a dynamic quarterback of their own with Trevor Lawrence. The freshman took over the starting job from Kelly Bryant and has passed for almost 3,000 yards with 27 touchdowns.
Despite all the deserved attention Lawrence has received, running back Travis Etienne has been a huge star. Clemson averages more than 250 rush yards per game, with Etienne rushing for 1,572 yards this season. Of Clemson's 537 carries this season, Etienne has accounted for 190 (35 percent). That's a huge change from last season, as Bryant led the Tigers with 173 attempts in 2017.
When the Tide roughed up Bryant and the Tigers in a 24-6 Sugar Bowl win last season, it was clear Clemson didn't have the firepower to compete. It does now.
At the same time, Alabama is even better offensively — and it has Hurts waiting if needed.
The last two title game showdowns between these two have been decided by 5 and 4 points. It wouldn't be surprising if this year's game was even closer.
Alabama-Clemson: Stats, how they compare
|14-0 (8-0 SEC West)||Record (Conference)||14-0 (8-0 ACC Atlantic)|
|No. 1||CFP ranking||No. 2|
|47.7||Points per game||44.3|
|527.6||Yards per game||530.4|
|310.5||Yards allowed per game||274.6|
|190.2||Passing yards allowed||182.1|
|120.3||Rushing yards allowed||92.6|
3,671 yards (41 TDs, 4 INTs)
|Passing yards||Trevor Lawrence
2,933 yards (27 TDs, 4 INTs)
819 yards, 9 TDs
|Rushing yards||Travis Etienne
1,572 yards, 22 TDs
1,176 yards, 13 TDs
|Receiving yards||Tee Higgins
855 yards, 11 TDs
66 total tackles, 17 tfl, 7 sacks
|Defensive leader||Clelin Ferrell
49 total tackles, 18 tfl, 11.5 sacks
Alabama-Clemson: Score prediction
The two biggest names in college football are battling again. Alabama is No. 1, the favorite, the defending national champion and has the (arguably) best quarterback in the country.
But something seems off.
After looking unbeatable for much of the season, Alabama barely beat Georgia thanks to Jalen Hurst heroics. The Tide raced out to a 28-0 lead against Oklahoma, only for the Sooners to get to within 11 points three times in the second half. Sure, Alabama always found an answer against OU. But Clemson isn't Oklahoma.
Huge, undefeated favorites have gone down before. Underdog Ohio State shocked Miami to win the 2002 national title. Texas beat Southern California in a classic Rose Bowl in the 2005 season. Both times, the winners were undefeated but still strong underdogs. Clemson fits that mold.
Clemson 31, Alabama 28