For the first time in years, Alabama football let someone else decide if they'd be in the running for a national championship title.
While the Alabama-Ohio State debate dominated the playoff discussion on Saturday and into Sunday, Clemson (12-1) was wrapping up the No. 1 seed with a 38-3 rout of Miami in the ACC Championship game. "But you know, we're going to get ready and do what we do". His combined two-game stats vs. Alabama were 66-of-103 passes for 825 yards, seven TDs and one interception, and 41 rushes for 118 yards and a TD.
Alabama (11-1) which was ranked No. 1 before losing its regular-season finale at Auburn, 26-14. edged out Ohio State for the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, giving the Southeastern Conference in the CFP for the first time and also shutting out the Big Ten from the playoffs. The Crimson Tide is a 2-point favorite, according to VegasInsider.com. The Tigers have made it back to the CFP with a dominant defense and the emergence of junior quarterback Kelly Bryant.
Underdog or not, the Tigers are the team to beat.
This time around, both teams have a loss.
And aside from the notion that the SEC has half of the playoff field is that it gave the defending champion Tigers perhaps the most daunting matchup it could have faced. "What we accomplished is something that's really motivating to go do it again". We're not defending anything. "I told Deshaun wouldn't it be something if we came back here for the semifinals in a few months". "Alabama has been consistent week-in and week-out over the entire season". 6 Auburn two weeks ago.
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Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban said he is also excited for the game.
Saban said he needs all healthy bodies on deck. "We'll certainly need to play our best to have any kind of chance to be successful".
Meanwhile, Hundley and the rest of the Sugar Bowl folks are on a high.
But before the Tigers can "attack" a second straight national championship, they must get through the Alabama Crimson Tide, who will face the Tigers for a third straight season - this time in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day (8:45 p.m., ESPN) in New Orleans.
"Early indication are our tickets are going to be a hot commodity", Hundley said. "When I got here, everybody was waiting for me and it was very exciting and we're very pleased and proud and happy".