There are some who are not as thrilled to see another Clemson vs. Alabama national championship game. However, the Tigers and Crimson Tide are fine with it.
The two national powers meet for a fourth straight year in the College Football Playoff and for the third time in the title game when they face each other next Monday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara Calif.
“It is the two best teams and I think that is the objective is to get the two best teams to play for the national championship. I think both of these teams have earned that,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said on ESPN’s Championship Drive on Tuesday. “If that is the case, then that is good.”
Clemson and Alabama are clearly the two best teams this season, winning all 14 games by an average of 34 points per game.
The two programs have been the best in college football the last four years as well. The Crimson Tide is 55-3 since 2015, while Clemson is 54-4. They have also won each of the last three national championships (Alabama 2, Clemson 1).
“We are concerned what is good for our team and I am sure Dabo is concerned what is good for his players and his team,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “So, we both have a lot of good players and we have been fortunate to help those players play well enough to play for an opportunity to play for a championship.”
The two previous matchups in the national championship game were classics. Saban used an onside kick and then Kenyan Drake later took a kickoff back for a touchdown to outlast the Tigers, 45-40, in the 2016 CFP Title Game.
In the 2017 National Championship Game, Deshaun Watson threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with one second to play to beat the Crimson Tide, 35-31.
Last year’s meeting was in the Sugar Bowl as part of the CFP Semifinals. Alabama won the game, 24-6, thanks to two third-quarter interceptions—one returned deep in Clemson territory to set up a score and one taken back for a touchdown—that were the difference in the game.
“There are a lot of guys back from that team, but we still have a lot of new pieces,” Swinney said. “We are a veteran team, but there are a lot of new people on this team. Obviously, with our quarterback (Trevor Lawrence), Justyn Ross, Xavier Thomas, lots of guys.
“You still have to start over and all of those things, but I think the biggest thing is the guys understand that you get just a few plays that you have to make if you are going to beat Alabama. They just don’t give you much opportunity. Our guys have a clear understanding. We have a bunch of guys who have won one and obviously, we have a bunch that have lost one. So, they understand the margin for error and how you have to play to have a chance to compete against a team like Alabama.”