Although the coming of the New Year may be a moment for most individuals to euphorically and hastily set lofty New Years resolutions, there will also be those that have one desire to satiate before considering anything else: watch the College Football Playoff. While the initial contest between Georgia and Oklahoma will be incredibly thrilling, the second Semi-Final game between Clemson and Alabama will undoubtedly be just as emotional as supremely competitive. After winning last years National Title Game by scoring a touchdown with one second remaining, the Clemson Tigers will be highly motivated to send their postseason rivals home on the first day of the New Year yet again. However, the immensely talented Crimson Tide will be seeking retribution for falling just short of winning another National Title. With both teams having potent defenses and athletically mobile quarterbacks, this should be a fury fueled contest that could very well outdo last years meeting when all is said and done.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Alabama Crimson Tide (4) vs. Clemson Tigers (1)
Date: Monday, January 1, 2018
Time:8:45 PM E.T.
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
TV Channel: ESPN
As everyone and their mother undoubtedly know by now, the Crimson Tide is a talent-laden program that always has an elite defense with which to dispatch overly confident opposition. Allowing opponents to score just 11.5 PPG this season (best in college football), the Crimson Tide have relentlessly shutdown seemingly every prolific offense that they have encountered. While Alabama’s defense is legendary, the Crimson Tide are also privileged to have a highly-athletic passer that has effectively baffled opposing defenses with his draw-dropping mobility. Although quarterback Jalen Hurts’ eight rushing touchdowns and three 100-yards rushing games are indicative of a confident runner, the sophomore passer has actually elevated his passing capabilities this season to become a true dual-threat asset (15 passing touchdowns, one interception this year). Combined with the capabilities of true running backs Damien Harris (8.2 yards per rushing attempt, 11 rushing touchdowns) and Bo Scarbrough (5.1 yards per rushing attempt, eight rushing touchdowns), the Crimson Tide are a well-balanced machine that can wear down their opponents quickly on both sides of the ball. Similar to the Crimson Tide, the Tigers have a lightning fast dual-threat passer in quarterback Kelly Bryant. Rushing for 11 touchdowns, Bryant has the impressive escapability to evade aggressive pass rushers consistently. However, while Bryant may not be known for his abilities as a passer, the first year starter was actually quite efficient this year as he completed over 67% of passes and threw just six interceptions. Outside of Bryant, the Tigers rushing game is solid but not nearly as explosive as that of the Crimson Tide. Still, the Tigers top two rushers in Travis Etienne (7.2 yards per rushing attempt, 13 rushing touchdowns) and Tavien Feaster (6.4 yards per rushing attempt, seven rushing touchdowns) have done their fair share of the heavy lifting on offense. Despite having the second-best defense in the country (12.8 PAPG), the Tigers will have a tremendously difficult time in shutting down the physical rushers of the Crimson and will also struggle at rushing against an Alabama front seven that, when healthy, is nearly impenetrable. In the end, Alabama’s top-notch defense and elite rushing capabilities will do just enough to overcome their hated rivals on one of the biggest stages of college football.
Final Score: Crimson Tide 27 Tigers 24 Spread: Alabama -3.0