NEW ORLEANS — Christian Wilkins has appeared twice in the College Football Playoff in two full years at Clemson, and played Alabama in the national title game both times. However, the junior defensive tackle isn’t tired of facing the Crimson Tide — in fact, he embraces it.
Wilkins is happy that he and the Tigers are set to square off with Alabama yet again in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1.
“It’s definitely fun, I’m up for it,” Wilkins said during Thursday’s media press conference at the Marriott Convention Center in New Orleans. “I came to Clemson to compete at the highest level, and Alabama’s the best, so I’m glad we get to play against them.”
Clemson of course avenged its loss to Alabama in the 2016 national championship game by taking home the national title last year for the first time in 35 years. Now, Alabama is the team seeking payback.
While the complexion of the game has changed — and while a national title isn’t on the line this time around, but a berth in the title game — Wilkins isn’t viewing the contest any differently.
“It doesn’t really feel any different,” he said. “The last two times we played them with obviously a lot at stake. Now you’re more comfortable because you know the personnel, you know your opponent. You have more confidence, too. You’re ready to go, you know what they’re going to do, and you just have to go out there and play.”
Last year, Alabama was looking to further cement its dynasty with a fifth national championship in eight years. This time, Clemson is hoping to change the narrative in college football by reaching the top of the mountain again and signaling the reign of a new dynasty.
Alabama does not want to pass the dynasty torch to Clemson, and the Tide certainly have revenge in mind heading into Monday night’s showdown at the Superdome.
“Just winning the National Championship, no matter who it’s against, was great,” Wilkins said. “But to beat a team that everybody looks up to as the model program was even better. That being said, they don’t lose to a team two times in a row much, so we’re really going to have to bring it. They’re going to be ready to play against us. They had a year to sit around and think about it and let that loss marinate, so I’m sure they’ll come out ready to play.”