SAN JOSE, Calif. — If Clemson is going to knock off No. 1 Alabama in Monday’s national championship game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calf., then the second-ranked Tigers have to do the little things right.
What are those little things?
Simple. It’s fundamental football. It’s blocking, tackling and taking care of the football. It is really that simple, and against the Crimson Tide it is magnified even more.
“I mean, these are two really good teams that are both hard to beat, and you’ve got to do the little things to give yourself a chance, whether it be that field position battle, it’s where your guys are, it’s your footwork, positioning, it’s technique, because you just don’t have a lot of room for error, either team,” Swinney said.
Monday will mark the fourth straight season Clemson (14-0) and Alabama (14-0) have met in the College Football Playoff and the third time in the national championship. These two teams are familiar with each other as well as any two programs in a title game came be.
The 2016 and ’17 meetings in the championship game were epic games, considered two of the best in the history of college football. Last year’s semifinal matchup at the Sugar Bowl was not as exciting as Alabama used to Clemson turnovers in the third quarter to beat to take the Tigers, 24-6, in a tough defensive game.
Now Clemson vs. Alabama Part IV ascends upon the Bay Area and because both teams are undefeated and both teams rank in the top 15 in pretty much every major statistic offensively and defensively, many expect this year’s championship to be better or as good as the 2016 and ’17 Championship games.
“I don’t really have to emphasize it with this group, I mean, because they know,” Swinney said. “Like you said, we’ve played them now four years in a row, and this is a veteran team that we have. They understand that this is a game where you just have so little margin for error. I mean, it’s two or three plays, literally. You’ve got to have great preparation mentally and physically to get yourself ready.
“I think when you look at this game, I think both teams are kind of mirror images of each other to be honest with you, really good defenses, dynamic quarterbacks, very talented running backs, and explosive skill, and just kind of built in the trenches. We’re so similar.”
So, it’s going to come down to just execution and mentally being sharp and making those two or three plays that you don’t know when they’re coming. So, you just have to truly play every play like it’s the last play.
“But, we love that challenge, and we know exactly what’s coming for sure with the type of team that we’re getting ready to play.”