Alabama outworked and out-muscled an overmatched Clemson group as the Crimson Tide defeated the Tigers for the second time in three years, 24-6, in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.
The Crimson Tide held the Tigers to just 188 yards of total offense, its lowest total of the season by almost 100 yards.
Kelly Bryant threw two interceptions that stuck a dagger in the game.
The first came against the game’s defensive MVP Da’Ron Payne, who later scored on the ensuing drive catching a touchdown pass from Jalen Hurts. Clemson’s next offensive play resulted in an interception return for touchdown by Alabama’s Mack Wilson, effectively sealing the game.
The struggles were not limited to the air, as the Tide stifled the Tigers’ running game, with Clemson gaining a season-low 64 yards rushing with no one having more than Travis Etienne’s 22. The freshman, playing in his home state, went out with an injury in the first half before returning, telling reporters after the game that he felt good enough to come back in.
The most emotional player in the locker room was DT Christian Wilkins, who despite acting non-committal after the game, spoke like a man who had played his last game for Clemson.
A man who did definitively play his final game with the Tigers was outgoing senior Dorian O’Daniel, who after leading the Tigers in tackles, managed just four in the Sugar Bowl. He said after the game Alabama didn’t show them anything the Tigers were not expecting:
The biggest stat of the game was the fact that Alabama did not let Hunter Renfrow get any freedom all night. Renfrow had just one catch through the first three quarters, finishing with four in the fourth quarter against Alabama’s prevent defense.
The rising senior believes that Alabama was more prepared than they were:
Dabo Swinney, Kelly Bryant and Clelin Ferrell all spoke at the formal press conference below:
Swinney, Bryant & Ferrell
Will Palaszczuk provided his postgame analysis via Periscope:
— SportsTalk (@sportstalksc) January 2, 2018
Alabama moves on to face Georgia in the first singular conference final in CFP history on Monday night in Atlanta.