Preview of Sugar Bowl 2018: Clemson vs. Alabama, paired again –

Preview of Sugar Bowl 2018: Clemson vs. Alabama, paired again


The decision to award fourth and final place in the playoffs to Alabama with a loss in place of Big Ten champion Ohio State has set the stage for the ultra-rare rematch. For the third consecutive season, Alabama and Clemson will meet in the postseason, after dividing the previous two seasons.

The only difference this time is that the clash between these two programs – the finest college football in the past three years – will come in the Sugar Bowl semifinal rather than the national title.

It's a battle full of plots, but the game itself will not take place for another four weeks. Anything can happen from here to there, and there are another 38 bowl games before the semifinal begins on New Year's Day. All this is going to say, this preview of Alabama-Clemson Part III is in the way too early variety.

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How did both teams get here [19659006] Clemson: With authority. The Tigers knew that the ACC championship game against Miami basically served as a quarterfinal of the playoffs; a victory meant entering the tiebreaker as the possible seed, while a defeat would almost certainly have killed any chance of repeating as national champions.

All Clemson did was definitively annihilate Miami from the opening whistle in a performance so harsh tempered the "Miami has returned" speech, at least for now. Clemson led 38-0 in the fourth quarter before delivering a pointless field goal and now enters the postseason full of confidence.

The Tigers began the year ranked third in the AP poll, and apart from a Friday night loss to Syracuse in October, a starting quarterback of the game Kelly Bryant left in the first half with a commotion cerebral, Clemson has been solid throughout the season. With four victories over teams in the final playoff clbadification and winning consecutive wins in the control of tricks (Clemson managed his rival South Carolina 34-10 as a visitor in the last week of the season), the Tigers are a worthy no. 1.

Alabama: For the skin of their teeth. Crimson Tide's 26-14 defeat at Auburn on the weekend of rivalry left its fate in the hands of the committee, as Auburn's victory badured SEC West and kept Bama out of the game for the title of SEC. But the state of Ohio made Nick Saban's team a real solid by beating Wisconsin, which would have taken fourth place with a victory, and the committee resisted the urge to elect the Buckeyes with two losses simply because they won their conference.

Alabama does not have many quality victories on its résumé, as Florida State's disastrous season nullified what appeared to be a prestigious victory in Week 1, but its only defeat in the season came on the road to a top-10 team in a game that was much closer than the final score.

story you'll get tired of listening

Alabama deserves to even be here? You'll hear a lot about how it's the third year in a row that these teams will meet in the postseason, but that's a really intriguing story that does not always show up. On the other hand, continuing to debate whether Ohio State should be instead of Alabama is neither productive nor enjoyable. No matter your opinion about the decision, for what it's worth, I think the committee defined it, there's no going back now, for better or for worse. Fans should turn their attention away from the Ohio State-Alabama debate to current football games, which should be spectacular.

Showdown to see

Alabama ground attack against Clemson's defensive front. Alabama relies heavily on the three-headed running attack by runners Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough and quarterback Jalen Hurts, they all have more than 500 yards on the ground In the season. So far, it has been a successful strategy: Crimson Tide is 11th in the country with 265.3 yards per game. But the extremely talented defensive front of Clemson, led by the first team All-ACCers Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins, presents a new challenge entirely. The Tigers kept Miami to 104 rushing yards in 30 attempts and 214 yards of total offense in the game for the ACC title. If Alabama is able to establish a ground game it will be of great help in determining the outcome.

Underestimated factor X

Alabama's health. The Crimson Tide entered the battered Iron Bowl, particularly on the defensive side. Linebackers Terrell Lewis and Christian Miller played their first games since the season opener against Florida State, while Mack Wilson dressed for the first time since October 21. The defense looked vulnerable to yielding 408 yards of total offense to Auburn.

Those three boys will benefit severely from the extended pause, but Alabama will not be able to count on security head Hootie Jones, who will miss the game with an MCL injury he suffered against Auburn. All in all, Alabama should be healthier for the semifinal than for the Iron Bowl, which augurs well for the defense's chances of delaying Clemson.

Early prediction

The game opened like a pick, but public Support for Alabama has made the Crimson Tide one of the favorites. Clemson has shown over the past two years that he can match Alabama's talent in virtually any position in the field. The Tigers are reaching their peak at the right time, and that defense will not allow Alabama to impose its will on the ground. Clemson is in a good position to take Part III.

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