MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - If you like trilogies, this is the one for you. Alabama and Clemson are set to go head-to-head in their third College Football Playoff National Championship Game in four years.
The two split the first two meetings, but Alabama beat Clemson in the College Football Playoff Semifinals last year.
The No. 2 Clemson Tigers handled No. 3 Notre Dame 30-3 in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Saturday, the first of the two College Football Playoff Semifinal games. No. 1 Alabama looked to have an easy go of things against No. 4 Oklahoma, but the Sooners battled back to make it a ball game against the Crimson Tide.
It’ll be a battle of gunslingers in Clemson’s freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa’s story is well-known around Bama country, but Lawrence’s not so much. Lawrence was named the starter after the Texas A&M game by Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney.
That move prompted the transfer of former starter Kelly Bryant.
Lawrence stepped in and immediately made an impact for the Tigers. He threw for over 2,600 yards and 24 touchdowns in the regular season and had a 327-yard, 3 touchdown performance against the Fighting Irish in the College Football Playoff Semifinals.
The Tigers also rushed for over 200 yards in the win behind Travis Etienne’s 109 yards on 14 carries.
Freshman receiver Justyn Ross has the speed and hands to make it tough for the Alabama secondary. He posted 2 touchdowns to go along with 148 yards on 6 catches against Notre Dame to lead all receivers.
Clemson is also a force on the defensive side of the ball. The Tiger defense held Notre Dame to well under 300 yards of total offense and kept Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book to just 160 yards passing.
The Crimson Tide had a tougher go of things with Oklahoma and Heisman Trophy Winner Kyler Murray.
After jumping out to a 28-0 lead in roughly the game’s first 17 minutes, Oklahoma battled back all night to eventually cut the lead to 11 before Alabama eventually went on to win 45-34.
Tagovailoa finished with a better than 300-yard passing performance and 4 touchdowns while only misfiring on three passes.
The Crimson Tide was able to pace themselves in the running game adding 200 yards on the ground and two more scores via Damien Harris. Josh Jacobs led the way for the Crimson Tide with 98 yards on 15 carries.
Murray exploded in the second half, finishing the game with 308 yards passing and 2 touchdowns. He also picked up 109 yards on the ground and touchdown.
Alabama proved to be too much though with its first and fourth quarter performances.
The National Championship Game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson will be a battle of the undefeated. One team will suffer its first loss of the season. Alabama and Clemson will kick things off Jan. 7, 2019 from Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, California.