TAMPA, Fla. — It’s Game Day in Tampa, Florida where No. 2 Clemson battles No. 1 Alabama for the national championship.
Location: Raymond James Stadium
Kickoff: 8:17 p.m.
Announcers: Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Samantha Ponder, Tom Rinaldi
2016 Record: Clemson 13-1, Alabama 14-0
ACC/Big Ten Record: Clemson 8-1, Alabama 9-0
Series History: Clemson leads the series 2-0
Last Meeting: Alabama won 45-40 in 2016 National Championship Game
Current Coaches Served Both Staffs
Clemson assistant head coach, special teams coach and tight ends coach Danny Pearman coached at Alabama from 1990 to 1997. He was a graduate assistant in 1990 and became fulltime in 1991. He was on the staff when Alabama won the National championship in 1992. Alabama had four seasons of at least 10 wins when he was there and went to six bowl games. Current Alabama assistants Burton Burns and Billy Napier were both coaches at Clemson. Burns was at Clemson under Tommy Bowden from 1999-06 and Napier was at Clemson from 2006-10. Napier was the offensive coordinator on Dabo Swinney’s first Clemson team when the Tigers won the Atlantic Division of the ACC and finished in the top 25 of both polls.
Pursuing Fourteen Wins!
With its win over Ohio State, Clemson has a chance to tie the all-time FBS record for victories in a season. Of course, Alabama already has 14 wins this year and could set the mark by beating Clemson. No one has ever been 15-0.
Last year Clemson and Alabama were in the opposite situation. Clemson was the 14-0 team entering the championship game and Alabama was the team with one loss. Both finished with identical 14-1 record, after the Alabama victory. Clemson became the eighth school to win at least 14 games in a season last year, then Alabama beat them to become the ninth. Alabama became the 10th this year. Florida State did it with a 14-0 mark in 2013, Ohio State was 14-1 in 2014.
The 14-win mark was first reached in 1996 when BYU finished with a 14-1 record. The Cougars played an exempt game in August, played a game in Hawaii, which does not count towards maximum games played, and played in a bowl game in addition to the 12 regular season games.
Clemson’s Second 1 vs. 2 Game
When #1 Alabama faces #2 Clemson in the College Football Playoff Championship on January 9 in Tampa it will be Clemson’s second appearance in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game. Last year Clemson was No 1 and Alabama was No.2 entering the championship game in Phoenix.
This will be the first time this year there has been a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game. Overall this will be the 49th time No. 1 has faced No. 2. The No. 1 ranked team has a 26-20-2 lead in the previous 48 meetings of the top two teams in the AP poll. The last 13 games the No. 2 team has a 7-6 edge. Alabama has won its last five meetings in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup.
Clemson Coaches with National Championship Rings
Clemson has four coaches on its staff who have experienced a national championship. Head coach Dabo Swinney was a wide receiver on Alabama’s 1992 team that won the national championship. Three coaches have also experience that feeling. Dan Brooks was a member of Tennessee’s staff in 1998 when they posted a 13-0 record on the way to winning the national title. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables was a member of Oklahoma’s staff in 2000 when the Sooners won the title. And Danny Pearman was on Alabama’s 1992 staff when the Crimson Tide won the national title.
Clemson has Won Bowl Game Five Straight Seasons
Clemson has won a bowl game five straight seasons dating to the 2012 year when the Tigers defeated LSU. This is the first time Clemson has won a bowl game five straight years since the 1986-90 era when Clemson won five straight. (Clemson has not won five straight bowls as last year’s Alabama game in the National Championship counts as a bowl game, but the Tigers did beat Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl last year and Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl this year).
Tigers Winning Streak in Florida
Clemson has a five-game winning streak in the state of Florida. All five wins have taken place since the final game of the 2014 season. The streak began with a 40-6 win over Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl at the end of the 2014 season In 2015, Clemson won at Miami, 58-0 in the regular season, then beat Oklahoma 37-17 in the Orange Bowl, a semifinal playoff game. This year, Clemson won at Florida State 37-34 in a thrilling game in Tallahassee, and won the ACC Championship with a 42-35 win over Virginia Tech in Orlando. For many longtime Clemson fans this five-game winning streak in the Sunshine State must seem like a dream. Between 1991 and a 2004 loss at Florida State, the Tigers lost 11 consecutive games in the state of Florida and were outscored by an average of 43-10 in those games.
Clemson Has 10 wins over Teams with Winning Record
Clemson has 10 wins over teams with a winning record this year. That is already a school record for a season. The previous record was eight, set last year. Clemson has 69 wins over the last six years and 38 of them have come against teams that finished with a winning record. The list includes four teams with at least 10 wins this season. The record is five wins over teams with at least 10 wins, set last year. So a win over Alabama can tie that record. Prior to Dabo Swinney’s arrival, the most wins over teams with a winning record in a six year period was just 28 between 1986-91. Clemson wins over teams with a winning record this year are Auburn (8-4), Troy (10-3), Georgia Tech (9-4), Louisville (9-4), Boston College (7-6), NC State (7-6), Florida State (10-3), Wake Forest (7-6), Virginia Tech (10-4) and Ohio State (11-2).
Swinney Has 88 Wins to Match Alabama Number
Head Coach Dabo Swinney won his 88th game at Clemson when the Tigers defeated Ohio State 31-0 on New Year’s Eve. It is an important number in Swinney’s career because that was the uniform number he wore as a player at Alabama between 1989-92. He was a member of the Alabama team that won the 1992 National Championship. For his career, Swinney had seven receptions for 81 yards. That number-81 has an interesting tie to Clemson. The Tigers won the 1981 National Championship, Clemson’s only national title in the sport.
Swinney vs. Winningest Programs
One of the reasons Clemson’s brand has improved significantly over the last six years when the Tigers have won at least 10 games every year has been the quality of the teams Clemson has beaten. Over the last six years Clemson has an 18-5 record against programs that are ranked in the top 20 in college football history in winning percentage. Clemson is 1-0 vs. Notre Dame, 2-0 vs. Ohio State, 2-0 vs. Oklahoma, 0-1 vs. Alabama, 3-3 vs. Florida State, 1-0 vs. LSU, 1-1 vs. Georgia, 1-0 vs. Appalachian State, 1-0 vs. Miami (FL), 3-0 vs. Auburn and 3-0 vs. Virginia Tech.
Watkins Sets Clemson Mark
Carlos Watkins had two sacks in the win over Ohio State and now has 10.5 for the year. His second sack of the game broke the Clemson record for sacks in a season by a defensive tackle or middle guard. The previous mark was 10 held by William Perry in 1984 and Michael Dean Perry in 1987. Watkins has had an All-American season for the Tigers and made first-team All-ACC each of the last two years, helping Clemson to a 27-2 record.
31-0 Victory Fifth Largest over a Ranked Opponent
Clemson’s 31-0 win over Ohio State was the fifth largest margin of victory for the program over a top 25 program. What is amazing is that Ohio State is also the highest ranked team Clemson has defeated in its history. This gives Dabo Swinney two of the seven wins over ranked team by 30 points or more and both have been in bowl games. The Tigers defeated Oklahoma 40-6 in the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl.
14 Graduates on Clemson Two-Deep
Dabo Swinney has had 135 seniors in his Clemson career and 129 have earned their degrees. That number will improve by May as 14 seniors already have their undergrad degree and seven more should join them in May. This year’s group of graduates includes quarterback Deshaun Watson and receiver Artavis Scott, who both graduated in just three years. Other graduates are All-ACC center Jay Guillermo, All-American tight end Jordan Leggett, All-ACC running back Wayne Gallman, All-American Carlos Watkins, All-American receivre Mike Williams, All-ACC safety Jadar Johnson and All-American linebacker Ben Boulware.
Robert – Clemson 31 Alabama 20
Gavin – Clemson 31 Alabama 21
Will – Clemson 24 Alabama 17