How to watch Clemson vs. Alabama: Game time, live stream, TV coverage

How to watch Clemson vs. Alabama:The Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide will face off in the national title game on Monday night at the University of Phoenix Stadium. #Clemson vs Alabama# Clemson defeated Oklahoma 37–17 in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Orange Bowl. Running back Wayne Gallman carried the ball 26 times, rushing for 150 yards and two touchdowns against the Sooners. The Tigers remain undefeated this season, and could record win No. 15 with a victory over Alabama. Clemson last played for a national title 34 years ago.

Clemson vs Alabama

Alabama beat Michigan State 38–0 on New Year’s Eve at the Cotton Bowl. The Crimson Tide will look for their fourth national title under head coach Nick Saban. Quarterback Jake Coker completed 25 of 30 passes, throwing for 262 yards and two touchdowns against the Spartans.

Clemson and Alabama last played each other in 2008, with the Crimson Tide winning 34–10.

How to watch

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

Live stream: The game can be live streamed here.

TV Coverage: ESPN

Radio: For a list of Alabama affiliates, click here. For a list of Clemson affiliates, click here.

Team Schedules


Sept. 5: vs. Wofford (W, 49–10)

Sept. 12: vs.Appalachian State (W, 41–10)

Sept. 17: at Louisville (W, 20–17)

Oct. 3: vs. Notre Dame (W, 24–22)

Oct. 10: vs. Georgia Tech (W, 43–24)

Oct. 17: vs. Boston College (W, 34–17)

Oct. 24: at Miami (FL) (58–0)

Oct. 31: at NC State (W, 56–41)

Nov. 7: vs. Florida State (W, 23–13)

Nov. 14: at Syracuse (W, 37–27)

Nov. 21: vs. Wake Forest (W, 33–13)

Nov. 28: at South Carolina (W, 37–32)

Dec. 5: vs. North Carolina (W, 37–45)

Dec. 31: vs. Oklahoma (W, 37–17)


Sept. 5: vs. Wisconsin (W, 35–17)

Sept. 12: vs. Middle Tennessee (W, 37–10)

Sept. 19: vs. Ole Miss (L, 43–37)

Sept. 26: vs. UL-Monroe (W, 34–0)

Oct. 3: at Georgia (W, 38–10)

Oct. 10: vs. Arkansas (W, 27–14)

Oct. 17: at Texas A&M (W, 41–23)

Oct. 24: vs. Tennessee (W, 19–14)

Nov. 7: vs. LSU (W, 30–16)

Nov. 14: at Mississippi State (W, 31–6)

Nov. 21: vs. Charleston Southern (W, 56–6)

Nov. 28: at Auburn (W, 29–13)

Dec. 5: vs. Florida (W, 29–15)

Dec. 31 vs. Michigan State (W. 38–0)

{Clemson Vs Alabama } National Championship Game Predictions

{Clemson Vs Alabama } :College Football’s National Championship game is tonight. The Alabama Crimson Tide square off against the Clemson Tigers. Below, TBL writers make their predictions. Duffy: Alabama 31, Clemson 14. Alabama will stop the run. Elite running backs have not bothered them this year. Neither have mobile quarterbacks. For Clemson to win this game, DeShaun Watson needs to dominate through the air. He does not have that level of precision as a passer yet. This is close-ish for a half. Then Lane Kiffin starts springing wide receivers, Alabama flips momentum with a big play on defense or special teams, and Derrick Henry and the Tide come rolling through in the second half.

Clemson vs Alabama

Koster: Alabama 35, Clemson 13. What Kirby Smart’s defense did to a potent Michigan State offense was alarming. What Lane Kiffin’s offense did to a stout defense was even more so. The Crimson Tide annihilated a good football team, 38-0, despite minimal contribution from the Heisman Trophy winner. Clemson should fare a bit better on both sides of the ball than the Spartans did, but need several things to fall into place in order to even have a chance tonight. Spread offenses with mobile quarterbacks have been Nick Saban’s Kryptonite. The fruits of his focus on changing that should be readily apparent. In fact, it wouldn’t shock me to ride into retirement after posting a second straight shutout. But by all means, tune in. Should be a great game.

McIntyre: Clemson 31, Alabama 26. I picked against the Tide vs. Notre Dame in the title game a few years back (wrong). And against them in the Ohio State semifinal (right). And against them vs Michigan State (way wrong). I’m not sure why I keep picking against Alabama. Here, my three reasons: 1) Dabo Swinney dips into his bag of tricks to keep the Alabama defense off balance, 2) DeShaun Watson goes Vince Young-vs-USC on a fantastic defense, 3) despite what Jacob Coker did against Michigan State, he won’t be able to duplicate it against the Tigers.

Shamburger: Alabama 38, Clemson 17 Just like with the previous game, Alabama’s defense will cause problems for Clemson. DeShaun Watson is great, and should fair better than Connor Cook against the Bama secondary, but I don’t think it’ll be enough. By the end of the third quarter, Alabama will have tightened up the defense and worn down Clemson’s offense all while Lane Kiffin toys with Clemson’s defense on the other side of the ball. Of course, I could be wrong.

Alabama Crimson Tide, Clemson Tigers, College Football

Clemson vs Alabama

Clemson vs Alabama gameday guide: How to watch, key players, more

Clemson vs Alabama: The Clemson Tigers take on the Alabama Crimson Tide on Monday night in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Who: Clemson (14-0) vs. Alabama (13-1)

When: Monday, 8:30 p.m.

Where: Glendale, Ariz.


Radio: 93.1 FM in Columbia area

Satellite radio: SiriusXM Ch. 80

Series record: Alabama leads 13-3

Line: Alabama by 6 1/2

Clemson vs AlabamaClemson University players and coaches took part in Media Day at the Phoenix Convention Center in downtown Phoenix, AZ, Saturday, January 9, 2015.

Clemson vs Alabama


Record: 13-1, 7-1 SEC

Head Coach: Nick Saban (Kent State ’73)

Saban’s Overall/Years: 190-60-1 (.759) / 20th Season

Saban’s Alabama/Years: 99-18 (.846) / 9th Season

Saban in Bowl Games: 9-8 (.529) / 6-3 (.667) at Alabama

National Ranking: CFP (2); AP (2); Coaches (2)

Bowl Appearances: 63

Bowl Record: 35-24-3 (.589)

Bowl Streak: W1 (Win against Michigan State 38-0 in 2015 Cotton Bowl)

Formations: Offense: Pro Style (Multiple) • Defense: 3-4

Players to watch

RB Derrick Henry (6-3, 242, Jr., Yulee, Fla.)

Winner of the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and SEC Offensive Player of the Year award… Leads the nation with 2,061 rushing yards and 25 rushing touchdowns… Second in the SEC and in the FBS with 147.2 rushing yards per game… Broke both school and conference records in rushing yards… Consensus All-American selection.

LB Reggie Ragland (6-2, 252, Sr., Madison, Ala.)

SEC Defensive Player of the Year and captain of a defense that led the nation in rushing defense, second in total defense and third in scoring defense… Leads Alabama with 97 takcles, including 6.5 for a loss and 2.5 sacks.

OL Ryan Kelly (6-5, 297, Sr., West Chester, Ohio)

Concensus All-American selection, winner of the Rimington Trophy and co-recipient of the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy… Named the 2015 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year… Graded out at an average of 88.4 percent with five games over 90 percent… Led an offense that produced the 2015 Heisman winner in Derrick Henry.

Record: 14-0, 8-0 ACC

Head Coach: Dabo Swinney (Alabama ’93)

Swinney’s Overall/Years: 75-26 (.743) / 7th Season

Swinney’s Clemson/Years: 75-26 (.743) / 7th Season

Swinney in Bowl Games: 5-3 (.625)

National Rankings: CFP (1); AP (1); Coaches (1)

Clemson Bowl Appearances: 38

Clemson Bowl Record: 20-18 (.526)

Clemson Bowl Streak: W4 (Last: Win against Oklahoma 37-417 in 2015 Orange Bowl)

Players to watch

QB Deshaun Watson (6-2, 210, So., Gainesville, Ga.)

Named a Consensus First Team All-American… Earned All-ACC First Team and ACC Player of the Year honors… Leads the ACC in passing yards (3,699), passing touchdowns (31) and passing efficiency (155.9)… Has also rushed for 1,302 yards and 12 scores.

WR Artavis Scott (5-11, 190, So., Clearwater, Fla.)

First Team All-ACC selection for the Tigers that leads the team and is fourth in the conference with 868 receiving yards… Stands first for Clemson and seventh in the ACC with 62.0 receiving yards per game… Reeled in five touchdowns this year… Averages 86.71 all-purpose yards per game.

DB Jayron Kearse (6-5, 220, Jr., Fort Myers, Fla.)

Earned First Team All-American honors from… Totaled 84 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, eight pass breakups and one interception on the season… Forced and recovered one fumble for the season, while also blocking one kick.


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Clemson Vs Alabama 2016: Both Teams Will Lose

Clemson Vs Alabama 2016: Monday evening’s college football championship game features two powerhouse teams: undefeated Clemson (14-0) versus perennial football power Alabama (13-1). With all the media attention on this game, expected to be one of the most-watched college football games ever, it’s easy to find predictions for the winner of #Clemson vs Alabama#. CBS has six experts all predicting an Alabama victory. SBNation lists Alabama as a one-touchdown favorite.

Clemson vs Alabama

GLENDALE, AZ – JANUARY 08: View of the University of Phoenix Stadium ahead of the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers on January 8, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

My prediction is different, and I’m 100% positive that I’m correct: both teams will lose. Don’t get me wrong: the teams will play each other, and one of the teams will score more points, so the game itself will have a winner. But in this money-washed extravaganza, with coaches, schools, and television networks hauling in tens of millions of dollars, none of the players will be paid a single dollar.

Imagine this: the 100 players on each team’s roster have spent their year entertaining millions of fans. They have played their hearts out on the field, risking injury (including the possibility of a life-altering concussion) in every game, all while pretending to be full-time college students pursuing an education. The pretense that they are “student athletes” is what allows the NCAA and the universities to maintain the fiction that players should not be compensated for their efforts on the field.

Don’t get me wrong: there will be plenty of winners in Monday’s game. The coaches, conferences, and colleges have already won. Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban will be paid $7,087,481 this year. Clemson coach Dabo Sweeney makes $3,305,200. Alabama and Clemson’s assistant coaches make $1,500,000 and $1,404,807 respectively. USA Today calculated the total payroll of the football coaching staff for the four teams in the final two playoff games: $35,981,491, not including bonuses.

It’s not just the football coaches who have won big. Athletic directors and their staffs have cashed in handsomely too. As the Washington Post reported a few weeks ago,In a decade, the non-coaching payrolls at the schools [in the five wealthiest athletic conferences], combined, rose from $454 million to $767 million.”

The Post also compiled numbers showing that 34 football teams had staff payrolls above $1 million for non-coaching staff. Clemson has created an “associate athletic director of football administration” who alone makes $252,000.

But wait, there’s more. The athletic conferences in which Alabama, Clemson, and the other major football powers play have been rewarding themselves handsomely, paying their commissioners from $2.0 to 3.5 million. As the Washington Post put it:

“As a reward for making an industry fueled by unpaid athletes more lucrative than ever, the men who run these conferences have enjoyed staggering pay hikes doled out by the leaders of many of America’s largest universities.”

Much of this money comes from television contracts; the Wall St. Journal explains that the ACC (Clemson’s conferences) has a $3.6 billion contract with ESPN that lasts until 2027. ESPN is paying another $7.3 billion to televise the playoff and bowl games. None of that money goes to the players upon whom the entire enterprise depends.

It’s worth noting that only 1.6% of college football players make it to the NFL. Even if the number were higher, though, they still deserve to be paid for their years playing in college.

When you watch the game on Monday (or any college football game), think about all that money going to the coaches, administrators, conference commissioners, and staff, while the players get nothing. The universities participating in this lucrative enterprise should be ashamed: they are making millions off the backs of unpaid athletes, while hiding behind the pretense that they are providing the athletes a fair return in the form of a college education. As I’ve written before, this is nonsense. Universities have been corrupted by the lure of cash, and they seem to have forgotten that they are in the business of educating students, not providing sports entertainment.


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Clemson vs Alabama: Why the Party Crashers May Turn the Tide

Clemson vs Alabama: In the 18th year of college football’s efforts to crown a national champion, and the second year of trying out a playoff tournament, the sport finally has a matchup which will test the recent seismic shifts in the game. When perennial power Alabama takes on upstart Clemson for the title Monday evening, the sport’s leading blue blood will face its top party-crasher.

The showdown comes as new media contracts from TV networks have provided every major school with a windfall that is creating dividends on the field. At the same time, teams are featuring offensive schemes that rely more on speed and athleticism than brute strength. Combined with a training system that now begins to transform kids into star athletes around the time they get braces, college football is democratized as never before.

Clemson vs Alabama

Clemson guard Eric MacLain protects his quarterback against Miami earlier this season. PHOTO: JOEL AUERBACH/GETTY IMAGES

This once-in-a-generation change explains the possibility of Clemson hoisting the national championship trophy. The Tigers would be the biggest outsider to finish the season atop college football since Tennessee won after the 1998 season. Since then, every champion has either been a longtime member of college football’s royalty (USC, Texas, Alabama, etc.) or from Florida.“There are a couple of teams that are good every year, but parity is just rampant now,” said Joel Klatt, the Fox Sports analyst and quarterback at the University of Colorado from 2003-2005. “When I played the cream of the crop was so much better than the middle of the road team. With the early exits of top players to the NFL, the television money that is so influential and the emphasis these college presidents are putting on the football programs, it’s all helped level the playing Last year Clemson reported spending a little more than $24 million a year on its football program, according to federal filings. That is still less than half of Alabama’s $51 million annual football outlay, but it is 34% more than the $18.1 million Clemson reported spending on football in 2010. Others, such as Texas Christian and Baylor, appear primed to join the elite in the coming years.Clemson has been able to spend more on football in part because of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s $3.6 billion, 15-year media-rights deal with ESPN that extends to 2027. Last year, the ACC reported its revenues for 2013-14 had grown to $302 million, nearly double the $158 million it collected in 2009-10.

Just how level the field will be for the College Football Playoff in Glendale, Ariz., remains to be seen. Oddsmakers have installed Alabama, winner of three of the last six national championships, as a seven-point favorite. The Crimson Tide looked frightening in its 38-0 obliteration of Michigan State in the semifinal at the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

However, head coach Nick Saban’s Alabama teams have proven vulnerable in recent years against high-octane offenses led by quarterbacks who can win games with their legs as well as their arms: in other words, exactly the kind of attack that Clemson’s star quarterback Deshaun Watson runs.Chad Morris remembers the January day in 2011 when an assistant handed him a computer file with footage of the 15-year-old Watson from Gainesville, Ga., about a 70-minute drive from the Clemson campus. Head Coach Dabo Swinney had just hired Morris to become his offensive coordinator and modernize an attack that had finished 88th in total offense the previous season.

Morris had spent 2010 running Tulsa’s no-huddle, no-mercy attack that averaged 8 yards every time it put the ball in the air and finished 83 spots ahead of Clemson in the offensive rankings. Dozens of programs have switched to a speed-based attack in recent years, in part because coaches can run it successfully with the type of players prevalent today. They are big, though not huge, and fast and have specialized in football since childhood. They have technical skills far beyond what players had a decade ago, coaches and analysts say.

Morris said he watched three snaps on the Watson tape: a throw that effortlessly left Watson’s hand, a running play when Watson blazed through a helpless defense and a perfectly executed fake pass and handoff. He called Swinney and told him that Watson could be better than Vince Young, the dual-threat high school star who went on to win a national championship at Texas.That week they told Watson’s high school coach Clemson was prepared to offer the freshman a scholarship, the first of more than a dozen offers he would receive from top Division 1 programs.

“From that moment on, every time the NCAA allowed us an opportunity to be at his school, we were there,” said Morris, now the head coach at Southern Methodist University. Morris even drove to Gainesville over and over to watch Watson’s high school basketball games. “Had we not gotten to him when we did, we wouldn’t have landed him.”

Watson was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy this season as a sophomore, passing for 3,699 yards and rushing for an additional 1,032. The fact that he accomplished this for Clemson, whose success at recruiting top high school players is rarely ranked among the top 10 in the country, shouldn’t come as a surprise: Clemson has prospered by focusing on players from the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida, where the vast majority of young talent outside of Texas and California resides. Just 12 of 116 players on Clemson’s roster come from outside those four states.

“Clemson has been out-recruiting Georgia in Georgia,” said Tom Lemming, who publishes the definitive report on high school prospects. Clemson may not often land the milk-truck sized 18-year-old guards and tackles that sit atop lists of top graduating prospects, but it finds the long, lean linemen who can play its revved-up style. That means athletes who can pull out of a three-point stance, beat a linebacker to the outside and block for Watson on a rollout. The 6-foot-5 inch guard Eric MacLain was a 245-pound tight end as a senior in high school. The 6-foot-6 inch tackle Joe Gore was a 260-pound defensive end.

Ryan Bartow, a recruiting analyst who covered Clemson for eight years for the website, said that because the coaches can’t sell the history of USC or Notre Dame, they hook recruits on the football-first atmosphere of this small South Carolina town. The on-campus stadium seats more than 80,000; the university president, James Clements, knows many of the players personally and often meets with prospective recruits when they visit campus.

“The saying is, there are seven fun days a year in town, and those are the home games,” Bartow said.Clemson got to the championship after blasting Oklahoma 37-17 in the Orange Bowl last week despite being a 3.5 point underdog.

“It was just a matter of when,” said Swinney, who became head coach in October 2008. “This is year seven, and we were able to kind of knock the roof off of it.”

At Alabama, where any season that doesn’t end with a title is considered a failure, the journey to the championship game has relied on everything Clemson’s hasn’t. While the Tigers have focused on playing faster, the Crimson Tide slowed down this season. While Clemson scours its region for recruits, Alabama cherry-picks the country’s top talent.

Saban has flirted with adjusting his retro approach to a changing world of no-huddle, pass-happy offenses that have helped turn college football into something that looks a lot closer to basketball with shoulder pads. But Saban clings to the mantra of Alabama football going back to the days of the legendary Bear Bryant: Football games are won with an impenetrable defense and a stolid running game.

“The philosophy is to beat the other team into submission,” said Paul Finebaum, the Alabama-based radio broadcaster whose voice dominates Southern football.

After losing his final two games of the 2013 campaign, including a 45-31 thumping by Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, Saban sensed Alabama’s attack needed updating. He brought in Lane Kiffin, then 38, to modernize the Crimson Tide offense. Kiffin had flamed out as a head coach with the Oakland Raiders, at the University of Tennessee and USC. But he had a reputation as an aggressive offensive whiz. In 2013, the Crimson Tide offense ran one play every 30.2 seconds. In 2014, Kiffin’s first season, Alabama ran one play every 26.2 seconds.

In last year’s semifinal, Alabama was upset by Ohio State, which went on to win the championship. Despite a loss that some in Alabama referred to as the worst day in the state since Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Saban stuck with the Kiffin approach in 2015. Against Mississippi in September, the Tide held the ball for 35 minutes, ran a play every 21 seconds, attempted 59 passes and ran it just 42 times, despite having eventual Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry in the backfield. Alabama lost 43-37.

Saban had seen enough of 21st century football. Two weeks later, with his season on the line against then-eighth-ranked Georgia in Athens, Alabama became Alabama again. The Crimson Tide ran one play every 38.5 seconds, throwing the ball just 16 times compared with 47 rush attempts. Alabama won 38-10.

Since then, the Crimson Tide has been an old-new hybrid, and unbeatable. Henry, a junior who weighs 242 pounds, has barreled for 2,061 yards, but the nail in the Michigan State coffin in the semifinal was a 50-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jake Coker to freshman wide receiver Calvin Ridley on the first play of a drive with a little over two minutes left in the third quarter.

Alabama’s players say there’s a simple reason for their offensive slowdown. Last season, the Crimson Tide had Amari Cooper, who was the best wide receiver in the country. This season, the offense has Henry, who is the best running back in the country. So they run the ball more. Like most offensive linemen Cam Robinson prefers the latter. “I’m biased,” he said. “I think every lineman would.”

Alabama’s offense has the luxury of playing slowly because it can rely on the nation’s top-ranked scoring defense, which has allowed just 187 points in 14 games. Opponents averaged just 4 yards per play and 257 total yards a game against the Crimson Tide, the second lowest in both categories.

Three of the starting 11 are projected as first round NFL draft picks—320-pound tackle A’Shawn Robinson, defensive end Jarran Reed, who goes 313-pounds, and linebacker Reggie Ragland. “This squad here, everybody is just so mean,” Ragland said.

That suits the Alabama faithful just fine, Finebaum said. “The average Alabama fan is a believer in the same football that has been played there for 50 or 60 years,” he said. “Strong special teams, a great defense—and pound the ball down someone’s throat.”

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Alabama vs Clemson Prediction, Championship Game Preview

Alabama vs Clemson: It’s the Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Clemson Tigers for the second College Football Playoff national championship. It’s how it has to be. Below is the Alabama vs. Clemson prediction and complete championship game preview.

Clemson vs Alabama 2016

Alabama vs. Clemson Game Preview


Date: Monday, January 11
Game Time: 8:30 pm ET
Network: ESPN
Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

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Why You Need To Care

It really is how the national championship for the 2015 season has to be.

Last year, it was No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 4 Ohio State – it would’ve been an Alabama vs. Florida State national title in the BCS era. This time around, though, the college football season ends with the one matchup that needed to happen to tie it all up into a neat bow: Alabama vs. Clemson.

Last year, TCU and Baylor each had an argument to make about not getting into the playoff. Stanford might have had some sort of a beef this year, and Ohio State was certainly talented enough to have gotten in, but there was no real argument about the final four teams. Considering Oklahoma lost to a Texas team that finished with a losing record, and Michigan State lost to a Nebraska that finished 6-7, there’s no debating whatsoever that the 14-0 Clemson Tigers and 13-1 Alabama Crimson Tide are the two top teams, and there’s not going to be any question mark about who the real national champion is after it’s all over.

Dog the Clemson schedule all you want – Tiger opponents went 2-5 this bowl season with the two wins coming from Appalachian State and a Louisville team that beat a quarterbackless Texas A&M – but if it was so easy to go undefeated, someone else would’ve done it.

There were some struggles along the way – holding on for dear life to beat Notre Dame, and struggling in the ACC championship against a North Carolina squad that got walloped by Baylor in the Russell Athletic Bowl – but the Tigers kept on doing whatever it was they needed to on the way to the unbeaten season, highlighted by a dominant second half effort to beat Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. This has been a flawed team at times – who gives up 32 points to South Carolina? – but it’s also been a team in control of what it needs to do. There’s never any panic or sense of real urgency – this team has been able to hold up under the pressure and the scrutiny with nothing more than a yawn.

It’s a confident team that’s been able to have the best of both worlds by being No.1 throughout the CFP ranking process, but also being able to play the disrespect card as motivation.

Yes, it helps that 2015 Florida State isn’t the 2012, 2013 or 2014 version. Yes, it helps that the ACC was probably the weakest of all the Power 5 leagues. Yes, it helped that South Carolina was a disaster and the Notre Dame and Florida State games were at home. But now the resume has become undeniably impressive considering Notre Dame was a made Stanford kick away from deserving a spot in the CFP four and there’s a win over the Big 12 champion to brag about. Even so, it’s been easy to assume Clemson was going to blow it along the way at some point because … it’s Clemson.

The idea of Clemsoning is wrong – there really weren’t any true gags over the years to earn the term – but even so this has been the program that hasn’t been able to get over the hump again ever since winning the 1981 national title. The school operates in SEC country, and it recruits like an SEC team, but there’s always been one or two misfires that kept it from ever getting back in the national championship stratosphere. Lately, Florida State has had a lot to do with that, but now it’s Clemson’s time. Now it’s the chance for the ACC to have its second national championship in three years – and over an SEC West, too.

But this Clemson team isn’t 2013 Florida State, and this Alabama team isn’t 2013 Auburn.

Clemson might be No. 1 and 14-0, but if it can beat the Alabama team that steamrolled over Wisconsin, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn – all bowl winners, by the way – and could turn a veteran, savvy, talented Michigan State team into a quivering bowl of pudding, then it’s season takes on a whole new level of greatness. Not only would Clemson be the first 15-0 team, but it would get past the best team in college football to do it.

Look, the Tigers might be ranked on top because they’re undefeated, but Alabama is the most talented team – the next two NFL drafts will show that – and the most impressive.

The supposed weaknesses were the passing game and the secondary, and Alabama destroyed the Spartans in the Cotton Bowl with the passing game and shut it all down with the secondary.

All three starters on the defensive front are going to be top draft picks, Reggie Ragland might be the best linebacker prospect going now that Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith is hurt, and CB Cyrus Jones is also destined for the next level – not to mention all the talented young prospects providing the depth. Seven starters on the offensive side – at least – are going to be drafted, and it could be more if someone wants to take a flier on QB Jake Coker and if some other parts develop. Clemson has a boatload of pro talent, but it doesn’t have Alabama’s skill set across the board, and it doesn’t have the pedigree.

For all the greatness under Nick Saban, and for all the great coaching he and his staff have done, the success at the highest of high levels has basically come down to two key elements. Recruit as good or better than everyone else on an annual basis, and make each and every five-star recruit realize just how unnecessary he really is.

Saban’s biggest gift has been the ability to keep his uber-talented teams focused week after week. It might not be a barrel full of laughs, and there might not be pizza parties, but if you want to win championships, and your world will be a failure if you don’t, then you go play for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama has become a professional factory under Saban in terms of the process, the preparation, and the mindset week after week – it’s supposed to be here, because that’s what Alabama is supposed to do. Ohio State might be the one other program with a similar realistically insane goals and expectations, and it doesn’t have to play in the SEC West.

If Bama pulls this off, it’ll be Saban’s fifth national title, his fourth while in Tuscaloosa, and all of them will have come against juggernauts beating a 12-0 Notre Dame in the 2013 BCS championship, a 13-0 LSU in 2012 and a 13-0 Texas in 2009.

Beating Clemson wouldn’t be as impressive as taking down that 2008 Texas squad, but that doesn’t matter. A national title is a national title. You think Clemson is scared? Keep doubting this team. It seems to like that.

Why Clemson Will Win

The defensive front four has to keep the pressure on Jake Coker from the start.

The Tigers have just enough size and just enough of a rotation to keep from wearing down against the Crimson Tide running game, but the key will be the speed and the athleticism from the outside. Against Oklahoma, Shaq Lawson made one massive play, and that was it with a knee injury – it didn’t matter. The rest of the line picked up the slack keeping Baker Mayfield in the pocket almost all game long, while pressuring him enough to keep him from making his second read. The OU offense is mostly a one-look passing game anyway, but even then Mayfield wasn’t able to get comfortable in the second half. Once Sooner backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon got hurt, that was it.

Oklahoma had to try throwing, and it didn’t work. Against Michigan State, Coker was red hot hitting 25-of-30 passes partly because he had all day to throw. Michigan State came in worrying all about Derrick Henry, and it was Coker who got the job done.

The Clemson secondary is far better and far more effective than the Spartan defensive backfield, but it’ll need the ends to do their jobs.

More than anything else, the Clemson defense just has to get off the field. One of the biggest keys to the win over Oklahoma was the control the Tigers had offensively, helped by a defense that came up with the third down stops when needed. The Sooners helped the cause with their hurry-up offense hurrying-up off the field when it didn’t work, but having the ball for almost ten minutes more made a big difference for Clemson.

For all the great things the Alabama offense does, it’s mediocre when it comes to hitting on third downs converting just 36% of the time. On the flip side, Clemson is a killer when it comes to key downs, ranking second in the nation allowing teams to convert just 26% of their chances. Clemson’s D has got to control the game, because …

Why Alabama Will Win

The running game that worked against Oklahoma isn’t going to happen against the Crimson Tide front seven.

Alabama has figured out ways to manufacture motivation throughout the year, and now the ultra-focused and fired up talking point is the defense’s supposed inability to stop mobile quarterbacks and fast, spread running games.

That was true a few years ago when Johnny Manziel was making magic, and Auburn’s Nick Marshall and Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight came up with big performances, too, but those Alabama defenses didn’t have this line, this pass rush, and this set of killers from the outside.

Marshall was able to hit the Crimson Tide D by hitting the hole fast in the legendary win two years ago, while Tre Mason tore off 164 yards – that’s exactly what Clemson is going to try to do with Deshaun Watson and RB Wayne Gallman.

The Clemson running game isn’t as fast or as deadly as the 2013 Auburn attack, but it’ll try to mix in a similar style trying to get the running stars loose after combining for almost 300 yards on the ground in the Orange Bowl. However, the last two games against Florida and Michigan State, Alabama allowed a net total of 44 yards on 47 carries. Not only is the Crimson Tide run defense the best in the country, it’s the best by 12 yards allowing 70.8 per game. Boston College is No. 2 giving up 82.8 yards per game and just six rushing scores – Clemson was held to a season-low 112 yards and one score against the Eagles.

And as for that whole idea that Alabama can’t handle running quarterbacks, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott ran 26 times for 14 yards. Florida’s Treon Harris was second on the team in rushing – he ran 11 times for -4 yards. LSU needed something out of Brandon Harris, but he only gained 20 yards on five carries.

Don’t expect Watson and Gallman to go off like they’ll need to.

Player Who Matters

Deshaun Watson has to become Vince Young.

Artavis Scott is the go-to receiver, but he’s more of a possession target to go along with the rest of the corps that hits home runs. Most teams get caught trying to send everyone to stop the running game, and then Watson connects. Watson completes 68% of his passes, but he’s not a pure pocket passer and needs to be on the move to make things happen down the field. That doesn’t work against a Crimson Tide defensive front that cranked up 50 sacks on the year and will keep him contained as much as possible.

Of course, that’s what USC was trying to do to Young in the 2006 Rose Bowl, and Young made up for not getting the Heisman over Reggie Bush by completing 30-of-40 passes for 267 yards and running 19 times for 200 yards and three scores in his all-timer of a performance. Watson won’t do that, but he has to be equally effective and has to be equally dominant – he has to be the best player on the field. He has to be the guy Alabama doesn’t have an answer for. Slippery and deceptive,

Watson is the type of runner who looks like he’s going in slow motion and then is 15 yards down the field three strides. Whether it was Leonard Fournette, Dak Prescott, or Connor Cook, when the Alabama defense decided it was going to stop one guy, it did that. It’s up to Watson to produce anyway.

Again with the trumped up motivation, Alabama has a new thing to get jacked up about – Christian McCaffrey.

Michigan State trained everyone on stopping Henry, wanting to force Jake Coker to win the game. Coker was brilliant, and Henry was held to 75 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, but he still made plays.

Many in the national media chirped and crowed about how McCaffrey really was the best player in college football after his scintillating, record-setting performance against Iowa in the Rose Bowl. Not that Henry and his O line need any extra motivation in the national title game, but there might be a wee bit more of a chip on the shoulder of the Alabama running game than usual. Clemson’s run defense has been phenomenal, but Florida State’s Dalvin Cook was able to take off for 194 yards and a score on just 21 carries. Appalachian State’s terrific Marcus Cox ran for 103 yards on 25 carries. Expect Henry to get into a lather early on.

What’s Going To Happen?

Deshaun Watson isn’t Vince Young.

Alabama’s defense is the wrong fit for anyone, but it’s really the wrong group to try rolling against when an offense has to get its two stars in the backfield going. As long as the Crimson Tide come out ultra-focused and with the same sense of purpose they had against LSU and Michigan State – when they were looking to make a statement – and they’re not just trying to get through the game as a means to an end – like the Auburn and Florida wins – there won’t be any problems. Clemson moved the ball well on Oklahoma early in the first half, but had too many trips without touchdowns. That didn’t matter in the Orange Bowl, but the offense will have the same problems this time around.

Enjoy the coronation.

Alabama vs. Clemson Prediction

Final Score: Alabama 37, Clemson 17, Line: Alabama -6.5, o/u: 51
Must See Rating: 5: The 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship – 1: Sisters … 5

MORE: 5 Alabama vs. Clemson Storylines To Watch

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Seven things to know about Bama vs Clemson for CFP title

Bama vs Clemson: The first Monday in January means back to school, back to work and back to reality. After a few days or a few weeks of indulgence — food, drink, ugly sweaters, materialism, bad music, bad bowl games — we all need to get serious again. So let’s focus on a seriously big game, the biggest on the college football calendar: No. 1 Clemson versus No. 2 Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 11). The Tigers and Tide meet in the desert in one week, but the preparation process begins now. Procrastination, after all, is for the weak.

Alabama vs Clemson

Master the matchup, folks. Be the expert in the room when toe meets leather on the second Monday of January at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. You have seven days to get ready, so to get started, here are seven things to know about the title game:

History lesson: It hasn’t been pretty for Clemson. Alabama leads the all-time series 12-3 and has won the past 12 meetings. Clemson’s last win came in 1905, and most of the outcomes haven’t been close. Alabama has claimed the past three games by a combined score of 128-23. The Tide also posted four consecutive shutouts between 1934 and 1966, and blanked Clemson seven times in the 15 meetings. The teams haven’t played since the 2008 opener, when Nick Saban was in his second season and Dabo Swinney was still Clemson’s wide receivers coach, weeks from being named interim head coach after Tommy Bowden’s resignation. Alabama beat Clemson 34-10 that day at the Georgia Dome, holding the Tigers to zero rushing yards and only 188 total yards. Before that, the Tide and Tigers last played in 1975. The teams have only one extended series, meeting each year from 1966-69. The series began in 1900, when John Heisman coached Clemson.

Best individual matchup: Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley vs. Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander. Ridley has helped fill the massive void left by All-American Amari Cooper, leading the Tide in receptions (83), receiving yards (1,031) and receiving touchdowns (seven) while breaking Cooper’s freshman receiving-yards record. Since Alabama’s Week 3 loss to Ole Miss, Ridley has led the team in targets in 10 of 11 games. He faces one of the nation’s most complete cornerbacks in Alexander, a master tactician (and smack talker) who contained Sterling Shepard in the semifinal after being assigned to the Oklahoma star wide receiver. There’s no doubt Ridley will be Alexander’s top priority in the title game.

Position group you need to know: Clemson’s defensive line. You will hear a bunch of justified praise for Alabama’s defensive front, quite possibly the best collection Saban has ever had. But Clemson’s line shouldn’t be overshadowed by any group. The Tigers had to completely reset after losing All-American Vic Beasley and others, but they held up well this season. Their depth showed up in the semifinal after All-America end Shaq Lawson (23.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks) suffered a knee injury in the first quarter. Lawson says he will play in the title game, but get to know names such as end Kevin Dodd (18.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks) and tackle Carlos Watkins (6.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks). They will be big factors as Clemson faces Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry.

Biggest mismatch: Special teams. Clemson brought its guts to South Florida and turned momentum in the semifinal with a fake punt pass from Andy Teasdall to 322-pound defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. But it’s still likelier that the kicking game hurts Clemson against Alabama. Clemson ranks 126th out of 127 FBS teams in expected points added through special teams (minus-45.31), mainly because its coverage teams struggle. That’s troublesome against Alabama, which ranks 26th nationally in EPA through special teams (19.8) and boasts one of the nation’s best punt returners in Cyrus Jones, who averages 12.6 yards per runback with four touchdowns, including one against Michigan State in the semifinal. An ACC coach recently said of Clemson’s special teams, “It could kill them. That could be the difference if somebody gets them on it.” Alabama could be that team.

What should worry Alabama: Deshaun Watson is the type of quarterback who gives the Tide problems. The Clemson sophomore has eclipsed 100 rushing yards in five of his past six games and is averaging 107.7 rush yards per game and 5.92 yards per carry during that span. Of the past six quarterbacks who beat Alabama — Chad Kelly, Cardale Jones, Bo Wallace, Trevor Knight, Nick Marshall and Johnny Manziel — only one (Wallace) averaged fewer than 4 yards a carry in that season. Knight, Marshall and Manziel each averaged more than 6 yards per carry. Watson poses not only a run threat but also a deep passing threat, where Alabama has been vulnerable at times. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Watson contributed 11.1 more points to his scoring margin against Oklahoma than an average quarterback would with the same number of plays — the most by a quarterback in a BCS title game or playoff game since Texas’ Vince Young against USC in 2006.

What should worry Clemson: Alabama’s red zone defense. Everything about the Tide defense is a concern, but Alabama is particularly stingy in the red zone. The Tide lead the nation in fewest red zone drives allowed (25) despite playing one more game than all but 16 teams. Alabama is tied for second nationally in fewest red zone touchdowns allowed with 11. Remember, Clemson got away with poor red zone efficiency in the semifinal, producing only 13 points on four trips to Oklahoma’s red zone in the first half. Clemson is just 65th nationally in red zone touchdown percentage (60.7 percent of drives). And while the Tigers have 24 touchdowns on plays of 25 yards or longer, Alabama allowed only nine touchdowns on plays longer than 25 yards, two of which were punt returns.

X factors: Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett and Alabama wide receiver Richard Mullaney both could play significant roles. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Leggett is third on the team in receptions (35) and fourth in receiving yards (447), but he leads Clemson in touchdown catches with seven. He had 101 receiving yards against Florida State. Mullaney, a graduate transfer from Oregon State, is second on the team in touchdown receptions (five) and third in total receptions (37). He had three receptions for 53 yards against Michigan State. On defense, Clemson’s Cordrea Tankersley is often overshadowed by Alexander, but he leads the team in interceptions (five) and pass breakups (nine). He’ll likely match up with ArDarius Stewart, Alabama’s No. 2 receiver, in the title game. Like Tankersley, Alabama’s Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams aren’t famous names (yet), but both junior outside linebackers are dynamic edge rushers, combining for 16.5 sacks and 24 tackles for loss. The Tide need both players to pressure Watson.

Read More: ESPN

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Clemson vs Alabama Is the Perfect ‘Good vs. Evil’ National Championship Matchup

Clemson vs Alabama: Superman vs. Lex Luthor. Road Runner vs. Wile E. Coyote. Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader. Clemson vs. Alabama. It’s time to pick a side, then sit back and enjoy the fight. The College Football Playoff was created to give us the best possible matchup for the national title each year, hopefully one that will appeal to both diehards and casual fans.

Clemson vs Alabama

Clemson vs Alabama

The Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide will do just that, and it’s not just because they’re the two highest seeds and both won their semifinals on New Year’s Eve in dominant fashion.They also represent good vs. evil, a scrappy newcomer—albeit one that’s unbeaten and riding a 17-game win streak—matched up against a longstanding power that everyone loves to hate.

It’s Little Red Riding Hood against the Big, Bad Wolf. Batman against the Joker. Dabo Swinney against Nick Saban.

Which side are you on?

Do you like the underdog story, that of Clemson and the “aw shucks” approach Swinney projects even while oozing with confidence? Or do you prefer to go with the one that has gotten it done before, making it seem so easy sometimes?

It’s an Alabama program that under Saban will be making its fourth trip to the national title game in the past seven seasons (and has won convincingly in the previous three visits).This is just perception we’re talking about, of course. There’s nothing better or worse about either program or either coach, unless you take umbrage with the fact Saban’s squad seems to have a standing reservation on the final list for every top recruit, while whenever Clemson signs a 5-star prospect it’s breaking news.

Swinney helps his cause by pushing the “nobody believed in us” agenda, while also throwing pizza parties and renting out amusement parks. Seems silly, sure, but it’s produced 56 wins in the past five seasons.

Saban doesn’t have time for such nonsense; he has a business to run, and as a result he comes off as unlikeable. Unless you’re a ‘Bama fan, and then you’d want nothing less from your coach.It’s more because of the path each team has taken to get to this point, diverging routes that lend themselves to taking on different personas. Call them their origin stories.

Swinney, the Alabama alum who spent the first eight years of his coaching carer in Tuscaloosa, was a heck of a recruiter who had never been a head coach. But midway through the 2008 season, Tommy Bowden resigned after a 3-3 start (that included a 34-10 loss to Alabama) and the Tigers’ job was suddenly his.

No one knew if he could actually develop talent on top of acquiring it, yet now Swinney is arguably one of the top coaches in FBS.

Saban, on the other hand, is at a level that only he and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer are associated with, and with such achievement comes a reputation borne of others’ jealousy.Swinney has long been mentioned as an eventual replacement for Saban at Alabama whenever he decides to call it quits (or go somewhere else). That’ll be one of many storylines discussed between now and Jan. 11, and in terms of the good vs. evil theme, it adds a pro wrestling-like crossing of the aisle. Might the hero someday turn heel?

Clemson and Alabama play a different style of football. The Tigers are among the many schools that like to spread the ball out and maximize the athleticism of their quarterback, the masterful Deshaun Watson. Alabama flips its nose at new-fangled uptempo attacks, preferring to ram its Heisman Trophy-winning running back down the throats of opponents enough to make them forget the Crimson Tide can throw the ball deep.

And lastly, this matchup provides another opportunity to take a position in the conference supremacy debate.

Are you an SEC backer, wanting the self-proclaimed best league in the world to again lay claim to its place atop the college football mountain? Or are you part of the “anything but the SEC” camp, Clemson fan or not, that wants to see that conference fail to win a title for a third straight year?Whichever side you’re on, know this: Whatever happens, we’ll all be winners. The semifinals were for the blowouts; the championship game will be the real deal.


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