The 84th Sugar Bowl will be played today between the Clemson Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide. We all know this happened the last time these two met, in the National Championship last year.
Best part, Dabo, Saban and Renfrow are all back in the CFP for round 3.
#1 Clemson Tigers
Clemson is on a mission. After winning the National Championship last year, the Tigers lost QB Deshawn Watson and WR Mike Williams to the NFL. So, in order to repeat as champions Clemson would need to find a play caller on offense. And they did, big time in QB Kelly Bryant. On the year Bryant finished 67 percent of his passes for 2700 yards and 13 TDs. On the ground, the Tigers were led by a duo of running backs and Bryant who had a total of 2,049 yards and 31 of Clemson’s 40 rushing TD’s. Clemson’s receiving core also runs deep with 3 receivers with over 500 yards on the season and 3 more above 200 yards.
On Defense, the Tigers rank at the top of CFB, ranking as the 5th best defense in the country. The scores say it all, the Tiger defense held teams to 278 yards a game, 12.8 points a game and below 14 points in 9 of the season’s 13 games. The Clemson defense also led the nation during the regular season in sacks per game, ranked in the top 10 for sacks per game (8) and ranked in the top 5 for 3rd down conversion percentage at 28%.
#4 Alabama Crimson Tide
There is a high chance that Nick Saban has been pissed since last year’s national championship. Every single day since the loss to the Tigers, Nick Saban has probably preached to his team the importance of reaching the national championship again. And by looking at the outcome of the season, it’s quite true.
The Crimson Tide has the best defense in college football allowing only 257 yards a game (1st), 11 points a game (1st), only 94 yards on the ground (1st), only 163.7 yards in the air (6th). However the tide defense fails to attach the back field, forcing only 2.58 sacks a game (26th) and only 6.67 tackles for loss per game (36th). The Bama Defense also forced 2 shut outs and held teams to under 14 points 8 times. The Bama defense is also healthier than the past few weeks and has recovered since the banged up defense we saw in the in loss to Auburn during the Iron Bowl.
The Alabama offense is led by dual threat QB Jalen Hurts who has 1900 yards, 15 TD’s and 1 interception in the air and 768 yards and 8 TD’s on the ground. However, the Tide are awful on 3rd down (49th), a down where Clemson ranks among the best.
Dabo Swinney has ingrained a winning attitude at Clemson. The Tigers are in their 3rd straight matchup with Alabama in the CFP, but playing for the first time in the semi final. The rivalry is storied in the past 3 years and has history since Swinney’s time in Tuscaloosa. This game also has implication on the future of the CFP and its expansion. UCF beat Auburn by 14 points today to complete a perfect season. IF Georgia AND Alabama lose, (teams that Auburn beat handily) there will talks all off-season of why UCF would not have been selected for the playoffs after going 12-0 in the regular season.
However for this game, the line has always favored Alabama. But Clemson’s defense will stop the rolling tide, the score will never be more than a score, but Clemson will win round 3 and head to the National Championship.
You go, Christian Wilkins, you go https://t.co/gUAPDDhysm
— Jack McGuire (@JackMacCFB) January 10, 2017
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