Alabama vs. Clemson: National Championship preview

After a long college football season, the two best teams in the country, Alabama and Clemson, will face off tonight in the CFP National Championship game tomorrow night for the third time in four years.

The Tide and Tigers have met four years in a row, tomorrow night being the fourth.  The past three meetings have been won by Alabama by a combined 27 points, with the Tide beating the Tigers last year in the semifinal, 24-6.

Here’s what you need to know before tomorrow’s championship game.

Series History

This series started in 1900, where Clemson beat Alabama, 35-0, in Birmingham.  Clemson won the first three meetings by a combined score of 78-0.  Since then, it’s been a different story.  Clemson has only won one of the last fifteen meetings.  There only win coming in the 2017 national championship game.

Alabama leads the series 14-4.  Safe to say that the Tide have owned the Tigers.

Clemson Offense

Kelly Bryant was benched for Trevor Lawrence and Lawrence made his first start for the Tiger against Syracuse, going 10/15 for 93 yards, and the Tigers won 27-23.  This season Lawrence has been unstoppable.  He’s gone 239/366, for 2933 yards, with 27 TD’s and 4 INT’s.

RB Travis Entienne, who was a Heisman candidate this season and finished sixth in the voting, has had 190 rushing attempts, for 1573 yards, and 22 TD’s.

The Tigers have an explosive offense but haven’t faced a defense like the Alabama’s all year.  A Heisman QB got blown out by the Tide, now the final score didn’t show that, but Kyler Murray and the Sooners fell behind 31-10 at halftime and had to score 24 points in the second half to cut the deficit to eleven.

Clemson Defense

On the defensive side of the ball, Clemson has some of the best, and it might be the best the Tiger have ever had.  Even though Dexter Lawrence is missing the game due to a failed drug test, the Tigers still have three future NFL players on the line in Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrel, and Austin Bryant.  Those three have combined for 68 tackles and 25 sacks this year.  Tua will be facing a pass rush like no other tomorrow night.

At linebacker, Clemson has Kendall Joseph and Tre Lamar who have combined for 74 tackles and 6.5 sacks.  Both are in the top 10 of the 2019 NFL LB class.

In the secondary, Clemson has some of the best as well.  Isaiah Simmons and Tanner Muse have combined for 75 tackles, four sacks, and two interceptions.

The Tiger are second in rushing defense this year, having only allowed 1296 yards on 539 rushing attempts, allowing only 93 yards per game.

Clemson’s passing defense has only allowed 2549 yards on 411 attempts, allowing only 182 yards per game.

Alabama hasn’t faced a defense like this all year, so Clemson definitely will give the Tide a run for their money

Alabama Offense

After winning the starting job over Jalen Hurts at the beginning of the season, Tua Tagovailoa has not disappointed.  Tua is 223/321, with 3671 yards, 41 TD’s and only 4 INT’s.  Super-human stats

The Tide has one of the best rushing attacks in the country in Damien Harris, Joshua Jacobs, and Najee Harris.  In 356 attempts, the three have combined for 2136 yards, and 24 touchdowns.

They’re one of the best, but haven’t faced a rushing defense like Clemson’s all season.  It will be interesting to see how this rushing attack does against Clemson’s brick wall defense.

Alabama Defense

While having one of the best offenses in the nation, the Tide also has one of the best defenses in the nation.

Deionte Thompson, Xavier McKinney, Quinnen Williams, and Saivion Smith highlight Alabama’s front line combining for 160 tackles, and 11 sacks, but Quinnen Williams is the best of them all.

Alabama’s defense has allowed only 2627 passing yards in 433 attempts, allowing only 187 yards per game.

Alabama’s defense has allowed only 1684 rushing yards in 485 attempts, allowing only 120 yards per game.

Clemson’s defense statistically is better than Alabama’s, but the Tide are in the SEC, making the numbers more impressive.

What We Learned

Both teams have explosive offenses and brick wall defenses, which is what you would expect from two undefeated powerhouses.

I think it comes down to pressure.  The Tide are on the brink of Saban’s sixth title at Alabama and have been the favorite since they won it last year.  Clemson has nothing to lose, so I would expect them to bring everything.

The Tide looked stiff in the SEC Championship game, even though they won, it took one hell of an effort to win the game.

I think Clemson keeps it close, but in the end, the Tide will be crowned national champions.