Clemson-Alabama Sugar Bowl pregame notes

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Clemson-Alabama Sugar Bowl pregame notes

Of the 10 living members of the inaugural Allstate Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame induction class, seven were present Monday night and were introduced before the College Football Playoff semifinal game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Back-to-Back Champs This game marks just the second time since "Consensus National Champions" were named after the 1950 college football season that National Champions from the prior two seasons will face off against one another in a bowl game. Kelly Bryant's first pass of the drive is picked off by Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson, who returns it 18-yards for a touchdown. Trailing 10-6 in the third quarter, Clemson was driving to take a potential 13-6 lead. The talk has been he'll match up on Hunter Renfrow, who has four touchdowns in two games against Alabama including the game victor in last year's title game, but that takes him away from the blitz game.

Clemson registered just 188 total yards and rushed for only 64 yards in the contest.

Then came Hunter Renfrow and the nightmare-inducing rub route, when Clemson's diminutive former walk-on perfectly timed his inside cut to coincide with Artavis Scott's pick play, effectively blocking Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey into nickleback Tony Brown to free up Renfrow in the slot for the game-winning 2-yard touchdown with 1 second left on the clock in the 35-31 upset last January in Tampa. The Alabama fans have never been to New Orleans to watch the Sugar Bowl.

The committee deemed Alabama's regular season resume worthy to be the final team selected into the College Football Playoff.

Yeah, Alabama's defense looked pretty fresh.

Smith has played in all 12 of the Tide's games this season and two of his six grabs have gone for touchdowns.

Sure, the dual-threat sophomore was invited to the postgame press conference along with Saban and Payne, but the soft-spoken quarterback was basically a third wheel. The Tigers leave the season with a 12-2 record.

Jalen Hurts and the Alabama offense took a while to get going, but their defense came to play and smothered Clemson from the start.

Saban has four championships in the last eight years at Alabama, along with a BCS title at LSU during the 2003 season.

Against good defensive teams, the Crimson Tide's third-down, offensive efficiency has been anemic.

Third-down conversions have been a major issue for the Alabama football offense. Monday's game was the Crimson Tide's 16th appearance in the game.

The Rose Bowl has kicked off, with No. 3 Georgia getting the ball. Oklahoma (524 last year), Ole Miss (554 in 2016), Ohio State (537 in 2015) and Alabama (516 in 2014) each passed the 500-mark in their recent Sugar Bowl appearances. What we fans too quickly ignore is the next drive of the Auburn game.

Alabama's tailbacks combined for 18 carries (representing 29.5 percent of Alabama's offensive snaps) in the loss at Auburn. Alabama feels very much in control of this game early.

No. 4 Alabama dominated No. 1 Clemson in a 24-6 massacre that not only signaled that "Bama was back", but might be better than ever. It drove 47 yards to Andy Pappanastos' 24-yard field goal and 46 yards to Hurts' touchdown pass to Ridley for a 10-0 lead after one quarter.

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