Strap it up, boys: Clemson faces Bama for the third straight year

Strap it up, boys: Clemson faces Bama for the third straight year

by - Senior Writer -

CHARLOTTE, NC – Strap it up, boys. Clemson and Alabama part three is headed to the Superdome.

The College Football Playoff rankings were announced Sunday afternoon, and the committee put the Crimson Tide in as the number four seed. Alabama will face No. 1 Clemson in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the third year in a row the programs will face off in the postseason.

The Crimson Tide beat out the Ohio State Buckeyes and the USC Trojans for the final spot. The Sugar Bowl is set for Jan. 1 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The winner will face the winner of the Rose Bowl, either the #2 Oklahoma Sooners or the #3 Georgia Bulldogs, in the national championship game.

College Football Playoff chairman Kirby Hocutt said Alabama was more deserving than Ohio St. The Buckeyes suffered an early-season loss to Oklahoma and an embarrassing loss to Iowa in October.

“Alabama was clearly the No. 4 team ranked team in the country even as a non-conference champion,” chairman Kirby Hocutt said on Sunday.

The Crimson Tide’s best wins include LSU and Mississippi State. Alabama isn’t getting credit for the Florida State win, despite beating the Seminoles at full strength. Alabama’s lone loss came on the road to Auburn, who was ranked No. 2 in College Football Playoff rankings last week.

Alabama opened as an early favorite over the Tigers.

“This is really amazing the way it has worked out,” said Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. “Last spring I went to New Orleans with Deshaun Watson for the Manning Award and the ceremony was on the floor of the Superdome. I told Deshaun wouldn’t it be something if we came back here for the semifinals in a few months.

“I am very excited to be in the playoffs and the Sugar Bowl. The last time I went to the Sugar Bowl I went with Alabama as a player 25 years ago."

The Crimson Tide used an onside kick and several mistakes in the Clemson secondary in winning the 2015 National Championship, defeating Clemson 45-40 in the title game in Phoenix.

Clemson got its revenge last season. Deshaun Watson found Hunter Renfrow in the corner of the end zone late as Clemson defeated Alabama 35-31, winning the school’s second National Championship and first since 1981.

The winner of the Sugar Bowl will face the winner of the Oklahoma-Georgia Rose Bowl. The title game will be played in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

“This is the third straight year we have played Alabama in the postseason and they have been two great games," Swinney said.

“We are familiar with each other, but the difference this year is that we will be playing in the semifinals so we will have more time to prepare for each other.

“I am very proud of this team. We were a team not picked to win the Atlantic Division and now we are in the playoff.”

Clemson, making a College Football Playoff appearance for a third consecutive year, sealed its postseason fate Saturday night with a 38-3 thrashing of No. 7 Miami in the ACC Championship Game. It was the Tigers’ third straight ACC title.

Clemson has been to 41 bowls, but this will be only the second trip to the Sugar Bowl in program history. Clemson lost 7-0 to LSU in the 158 game.

The 2017 season was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Tigers – they lost Watson, tight end Jordan Leggett, running back Wayne Gallman, wide receivers Mike Williams and Artavis Scott, linebacker Ben Boulware and safety Jadar Johnson.

Instead of rebuilding, however, the Tigers simply reloaded. Quarterback Kelly Bryant was the MVP in Saturday’s win over Miami, completing 23-of-29 passes and a score and running for another touchdown. Clemson has what is probably the best defensive line in the country, anchored by starters Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant and Dexter Lawrence.

Alabama is second nationally in total defense, giving up 257 yards per game. Clemson is sixth nationally in total defense, allowing 277 yards per game. Alabama is ranked 20th in total offense, while Clemson is ranked 31st.

The tiebreaker in the recent Clemson-Alabama series should be just as good as the first two.

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