Though it is the defending national champions and is currently ranked No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings, Clemson heads into the Sugar Bowl feeling a little disrespected by the college football world.
Alabama, the No. 4 seeded team in the CFP Semifinals and Clemson’s opponent, is a 2.5-point favorite over the Tigers, who over the last six weeks of the season has run over the opposition on their way to a third straight ACC Championship.
“We are used to it,” Clemson linebacker Kendall Joseph said. “It does not make a difference in the game, but it is not shocking at all to be honest.”
Joseph believes it is the Alabama mystique that has the Crimson Tide listed as the favorite in the Sugar Bowl.
“It is that stigma and people believe they can beat us,” he said. “Rightfully so, they are a great team so that is who they are rocking with.”
And that is exactly the way Clemson (12-1) likes it.
The Tigers relish in the role of the underdogs, something they have not really been able to do since last year’ national championship game against Alabama.
“We definitely enjoy it, but it is so small that it is not a big factor,” Joseph said. “We have to go out there and execute and play good football, but we definitely enjoy seeing it. It is cool to see.”
Joseph says Clemson was hoping to play Alabama again in the playoff, though he admits the team was hoping it would be for the national championship. Regardless they wanted to play the Crimson Tide because they wanted the opportunity to prove they can beat them, again.
“They are the top dog and they earned that spot,” he said. “Even with all of our success, they still have that ranking to them. Just to be able to play them again and to be able to knock them off, again, that would be great.
“Regardless, at the end of the day, we just want to win and win the national championship. Playing Alabama again will be fun and will be awesome. We don’t shy away from it. We look forward to it.”
Some in the national media feel if Clemson does beat the Crimson Tide, then the Tigers will take over as the new Kings in College Football. However, Joseph feels there will still be some who will doubt them.
“In some people’s eyes we will and then in some people’s eyes we never will because we are funky ole Clemson,” he said. “I guess they will never want to give us that respect that they want to give to the Oklahomas, the Ohio States and the historic programs. But we are definitely working at it and I think it will be another huge win on our résumé.”