After five too-short months, the end of the college football season is upon us. And it’s very familiar.
No. 1 Alabama with face off with No. 2 Clemson in the College Football Playoff for the fourth straight season. Monday’s showdown in Santa Clara will mark the third time the Crimson Tide and Tigers have squared off in the National Championship Game since 2015.
Alabama has a 2-1 edge in the series and a 2-1 edge in NCAA titles in the playoff era, and 2018’s dominant 14-0 campaign has made the Tide a six-point favorite. But Clemson is riding the kind of hot streak that’s caused the air surrounding the Tigers to combust, and if there’s any team who could throw a wrench into Bama’s plans for perfection, it’s Dado Sweeney’s unit.
Back in September, Clemson played a closer-than-expected game against a solid Syracuse game, winning 27-23. The Tigers apparently took this as an insult to their football skill, because they spent the next three months burning their opponents to ashes. In the nine games since, the closest any opponent has gotten to Clemson was in a 20-point loss. The team’s average margin of victory in that span was 37 points.
Alabama, on the other hand, has dealt with more of a struggle — although Nick Saban’s team had to play a top five Georgia team in its conference title game and not the random event generator that is Pittsburgh football. The Tide needed a comeback win to claim the SEC championship, then held off Oklahoma’s comeback in an 11-point win to punch their ticket to Santa Clara.
That leaves the world in the familiar position of watching Clemson-Alabama for the fourth straight year. And even if that’s a stale match up, jaded fans can take comfort in the fact these teams turned in a pair of instant classics the last two times they met with a national title on the line.