When it comes to sports, second chances are such a rare commodity that many players will go their entire career and never have the opportunity to rewrite the wrongs that haunt their dreams. For the Clemson Tigers, that rare second chance was granted on New Year’s Eve when they slaughtered Ohio State and solidified their seat in the National Championship against Alabama. It was just one year ago that Clemson had the displeasure of watching the Crimson Tide hoist the National Championship Trophy into the air as they lost 45-40. Not wanting another championship to slip through their fingers, Clemson is sure to be firing on all cylinders – but will it be enough to defeat Nick Saban and his undefeated Crimson Tide?
Taking place tonight at 8 p.m. at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, both teams woke up early, eager to take the field and prove to themselves, and the world, that they deserve to be in the National Championship game. One glimpse at either team and it’s not hard to see that there is more on the line than a title and bragging rights.
Having been plagued with the memory of a measly 5-point loss, Clemson has been preparing the whole season for Alabama and appears to have mended the issues that led to their downfall. At the heart of the Tigers is quarterback Deshaun Watson. The two-time Heisman Trophy finalist has had a terrific year with 38 touchdowns, 586 rushing yards, and an impressive 4,173 passing yards. With those stats alone, it’s easy to see why Alabama might be a little hesitant going into tonight’s game. Watson has proven throughout his career to be one of the top quarterbacks in college football. His ability to analyze the field in a matter of seconds is arguably what drove the Tigers back to the championship game. But even with a star quarterback and powerhouse defense that ranks 12th in the nation, history still seems to favor Alabama as they have won 13 out of the 16 games against Clemson. The Tigers last saw a win over Alabama in 1905.
On the other side of the field are the reigning champions and currently undefeated, Crimson Tide. Alabama has molded itself into a fine-tuned machine that has garnered 16 National Championships, including 4 under Coach Saban. Although this season has revealed some weaknesses, Alabama has shown that they can rise from a two-touchdown deficit and still win. On more than one occasion, the 14-0 team has hit their stride early in the second half, causing their opponents to scramble. Wanting to set the tone early, Alabama must dominate the first half if they hope to go home National Champions.
As for their quarterback, Jalen Hurts has had somewhat of a rocky start. Just a freshman, Hurts has only accumulated 22 touchdowns and 2649 passing yards. A stat sheet that falls well below Deshaun Watson’s. Given Hurt’s lack of experience, Alabama’s defense is going to be crucial to the success of the team. With Clemson looking to end their drought and Alabama seeking another title, the CFP National Championship game could very well come down to a single play.
Will Clemson finally be able to beat Alabama for the first time in over 100 years, or will the Crimson Tide add their fifth National Championship title in only 8 seasons? Be sure to tell us who you believe will win in the comment section below.
Article by Chris Piner