INSIDE THE SERIES
Overall: 18th Meeting (Alabama leads, 13-4)
In Postseason: Series tied, 1-1
Current Streak: Clemson, Won 1
Last Meeting: Jan. 9, 2017 (L, 31-35)
Series Notes: Alabama and Clemson will meet for the 18th time when the two teams face
of in the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2018 at
the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La. The two teams have split the last two CFP
National Championship Games with the Tide claiming a 45-40 victory in the 2016 meeting in
Glendale, Ariz., and the Tigers coming away with a 35-31 win in the 2017 title game in Tampa,
Fla. Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban is 2-1 all-time against Clemson, including a 1-1
record in postseason matchups. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is 1-1 against Alabama in
NEUTRAL SITES: Alabama is 84-49-4 (.628) all-time in 137 neutral site contests. The list includes all Alabama-Auburn games not played on campus, including Legion Field from 1948-88. The Crimson Tide is 1-0 in neutral site games in 2017. Alabama opened the season with a 24-7 win over then-No. 3 Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sept. 2. The Crimson Tide is 17-5 (.773) in neutral site games during head coach Nick Saban’s tenure at Alabama. DOME SWEET DOME: The Crimson Tide is 25-7-1 (.758) all-time in domed stadiums, including a 16-2 (.889) mark since 2009 and is 17-4 (.810) in Nick Saban’s tenure. Alabama defeated No. 3 Florida State in its 2017 season opener at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sept. 2 in its only dome game this season. The Tide was 3-0 indoors in 2016. Alabama opened the year with a 52-6 win over USC on Sept. 3 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, then posted back-to-back wins at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome – a 54-16 win over Florida in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 3 and a 24-7 win over Washington in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 31. FOUR-FOR-FOUR: Two Crimson Tide seniors, linebacker Rashaan Evans and punter JK Scott, will be making their fourth appearance in the College Football Playoff when they take the field against Clemson in the CFP Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1. Their appearances against the Tigers will make them the first four-year players from any school in CFP history. Evans has 18 career tackles in CFP competition, including 10 solo stops and has added 2.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup in five postseason games. Scott has been a field position weapon in his postseason career, averaging 47.0 yards per punt on 38 attempts with a long of 73 yards, which is his career best. Twenty of his 38 kicks have landed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. TIDE SENIORS POST RECORD-TYING 51st WIN: Alabama’s win over Mercer on Nov. 18 was the 51st for members of Alabama’s senior class. The group boasts a four-year record of 51-5 (.911), one national championship, three consecutive Southeastern Conference championships and four College Football Playoff appearances. The 51 wins equals the NCAA record set by Alabama’s 2016 senior class, which posted a 51-6 (.895) career record. TIDE WELL-REPRESENTED ON ALL-AMERICAN LISTS: The Alabama football team had seven players named to All-American lists in 2017. Junior defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick became the 17th unanimous All-American of the Nick Saban era this season while senior linebacker Rashaan Evans also earned first-team honors. Senior center Bradley Bozeman, junior defensive back Ronnie Harrison, junior defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne and senior punter JK Scott were second team All-Americans while sophomore offensive tackle Jonah Williams received second- and third-team All-America recognition. FITZPATRICK RECEIVES BEDNARIK AND THORPE AWARDS: Alabama junior defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick was presented with both the Chuck Bednarik and Jim Thorpe awards at the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show in Atlanta, Ga., on Dec. 7. The Bednarik recognizes the nation’s top defensive player while the Thorpe is presented annually to college football’s top defensive back. Fitzpatrick joins Michigan’s Charles Woodson (1997) and LSU’s Patrick Peterson (2010) as third player to win the Bednarik and the Thorpe in the same season. He is the second Tide player to receive each award as Jonathan Allen was the 2016 Bednarik honoree while Antonio Langham received the Thorpe in 1993.
KNOCKING OFF NO. 1: Alabama’s win over top-ranked Clemson in the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game was the program’s eighth victory over the nation’s No. 1 team. The Crimson Tide own an 8-4 record in 12 all-time games against top-ranked teams, which equates to a winning percentage of 66.7 that is the best in college football history. Alabama is 5-1 against No. 1 teams since Nick Saban took over in Tuscaloosa in 2007. Alabama has defeated Florida (SEC Championship 2009), LSU (BCS 2011), Notre Dame (BCS 2012), Mississippi State (regular season 2014) and Clemson (CFP Championship Game 2016) with the only loss coming to LSU in the 2011 regular season. SABAN LEADS IN WINS VS. TOP-5 TEAMS: Alabama’s 24-7 win over then-No. 3 Florida State on Sept. 2 was Nick Saban’s 19th career victory against a team ranked in the top 5 of the Associated Press Top 25, the most in college football history. Saban’s career winning percentage in those contests (.613) is also college football’s best. Following Saban on the all-time victory list are Bobby Bowden (18/.378 winning percentage), Barry Switzer (15/.516), Woody Hayes (15/.516), Steve Spurrier (15/.429) and Lou Holtz (15/.419). That record includes three wins in the College Football Playoff: No. 3 Michigan (38-0, 2015), No. 1 Clemson (45-40, 2015) and Washington (24-7, 2016). Alabama was also 3-0 in BCS National Championship Games (vs. Texas, 37-21, 2009; vs. LSU, 21-0, 2011; vs. Notre Dame, 42-14, 2012). SABAN VS. AP TOP 25: Alabama’s 31-24 win over then-No. 18 Mississippi State on Nov. 11 gave head coach Nick Saban 75 career wins vs. Associated Press Top 25 teams, good for third all-time. Former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno leads the list with 86, four victories ahead of Florida State’s Bobby Bowden (82). Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant is fourth at 66. Former Duke, Florida and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is fifth at 64. Saban’s winning percentage against AP ranked teams (75-39, .661) tops Bryant (.592), Bowden (.557), Spurrier (.529) and Paterno (.512).
BEATING THE BEST: The Crimson Tide is 51-14 (.785) against the Associated Press Top 25, including a 27-8 (.771) mark against AP top-10 teams since the start of 2008. Alabama opened the 2017 season with a 24-7 win over then-No. 3 Florida State on Sept. 2, posted a 24-10 win over No. 19 LSU on Nov. 4 and downed No. 18 Mississippi State, 31-24, on Nov. 11 before falling to No. 6 Auburn, 27-14, on Nov. 25. In 2016, the Tide faced 10 teams ranked in the AP poll, going 9-1 and outscoring those opponents by an average score of 38.0-17.3. Alabama finished 8-1 in 2015 against the AP Top 25 after going 5-2 in 2014, 3-2 in 2013 and 5-1 in 2012. The Tide held a 4-1 mark vs. top-25 teams in 2011 and went 5-3 in 2010. ALWAYS IN THE HUNT: Since the 2008 season, Alabama has played in 123 of 126 regular season games that have had national championship implications. Following the Crimson Tide’s 24-21 loss to LSU during the 2010 calendar year, UA was essentially eliminated from a chance to keep itself in the national championship discussion. The final three games of that season mark the only three regular season contests without direct national championship implications over the last 10 seasons.
CLEMSON VS. ALABAMA SERIES Clemson and Alabama have two of the top football traditions in the South. They have combined to win each of the last two National Championships and both programs have the most league titles in their respective conference histories. Clemson has won 17 ACC titles, the most in ACC history, Alabama has 26 to lead SEC institutions. The two schools have met just three on the gridiron since 1975, the regular season opener for the 2008 and the National Championship game each of the last two years. Alabama has a 13-4 lead in the series that dates to a 35-0 Clemson victory in 1900. College football Hall of Fame Coach John Heisman was Clemson’s coach that day. Clemson won the first three games of the series, as the Tigers followed with shutout wins in 1904 and 1905. Alabama won the next 13 until Clemson won last year, 35-31 in the National Championship. Alabama did not score on Clemson in the first three meetings, then Clemson did not score on Alabama in four consecutive games played between 1934-1966. Alabama won a battle of strong teams in 1935, as Clemson entered the game with a 5-1 record and the Crimson Tide stood with a 5-1-1 mark. Alabama won the game played at Tuscaloosa, 33-0. The two schools met four consecutive years from 1966-69. It was a series arranged by good friends Frank Howard of Clemson and Bear Bryant of Alabama. Howard was a 1931 Alabama graduate who went to Clemson the fall after he graduated and never left until his death in 1996. Howard is buried in the cemetery behind the South Stands at Clemson Memorial Stadium. His grave site is just 50 yards from the entrance to the press box. Howard was a senior when Bryant was a freshman at Alabama. They decided late in Howard’s career to have a four game home-and-home series. Clemson went to Alabama in 1966 and 1968 and Alabama came to Clemson in 1967 and 1969. The 1969 season was Howard’s final year as head coach. The 1966 game was a contest between eventual conference champions. Alabama finished that season with an 11-0 record and won the SEC with a 6-0 conference mark. Clemson finished with a 6-4 record, but had a 6-1 record in the ACC. That year Clemson played ninth-ranked Georgia Tech, fourth-ranked Alabama and fifth-ranked Southern California, all on the road, as its non-conference schedule. Bryant came to Clemson for the first time in 1967 and the two teams did not disappoint the sellout crowd of 49,500 at Clemson Memorial Stadium. The contest ended with a 13-10 Alabama victory. Ken Stabler hit on 9-15 passes for 135 yards, including four connections for 110 yards to All-American Denis Homan. Clemson was led by Buddy Gore, the ACC Player of the Year that season, who had 23-73 rushing. Total offense was as close as the score, 276 for Alabama and 275 for Clemson. Clemson had the ball in Alabama territory twice in the last eight minutes, but could not get on the scoreboard. Clemson came close again in 1968, but an Alabama team that finished with an 8-3 record and top 15 national ranking, beat Clemson at Tuscaloosa, 21-14. The following year, Clemson ran up and down the field, but lost, 38-13. Clemson had a 200-yard passer (Tommy Kendrick), a 100-yard rusher (Ray Yauger) and a 100- yard receiver (Charlie Waters), yet lost the game by 25 points. After the game, then Alabama captain and future Clemson head coach Danny Ford presented Coach Bryant with a game ball that included a sticker with the number 100 on it. (It was the 100th year of college football and teams wore a 100 logo, so all he had to do was take if off of his helmet.). The victory was Bryant’s 100th win at Alabama. It is interesting to note that Bryant won his 100th game in his 126th game at Alabama. Earlier this year Dabo Swinney won his 100th game in his 129th game at Clemson. Alabama defeated Clemson in the Georgia Dome in the 2008 season opener, 34-10. Clemson was ranked eighth and Alabama was 24th entering the game, but Nick Saban’s second Alabama team was outstanding. Alabama finished that year 12-2 and ranked sixth in the nation. The highlight of the game for Clemson was a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by C.J. Spiller. A month and a half after this game, Alabama graduate Dabo Swinney, who was Clemson’s wide receiver coach for the 2008 Clemson vs. Alabama game, was named Clemson interim head coach. On December 1 Swinney got the job full time. The 2015 season meeting between the two teams was a classic National Championship matchup in Phoenix. Alabama won 45-40, but Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson was outstanding as he threw for 405 yards and ran for 73 as the Tigers gained 554 yards of total offense. An onside kick in the fourth period led to an Alabama touchdown and the Crimson Tide also had a kickoff return for a score. Clemson had the lead going into the fourth period and had won 51 in a row in that situation but Saban and the Tide pulled out the win. In the rematch last year, Clemson was victorious in thrilling fashion 35-31. Watson connected with Hunter Renfrow on a two-yard touchdown pass with just one second left to give Clemson its first National Championship since 1981. This time Clemson trailed by 10 points going into he fourth period, but outscored Alabama 21-7 in the last period to win. Watson was again brilliant, hitting on 36-56 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. He also had 21 rushes for 43 yards and a score. Renfrow finished with 10 catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Clemson broke Alabama’s record 16-game winning streak against AP Top 25 teams. This will be the third straight year Clemson and Alabama play in the postseason. The only previous time that has happened was the 1972-74 seasons when Southern California played Ohio State in three straight Rose Bowls.
LAST YEAR VS. ALABAMA Playing in his final game as a Tiger, Deshaun Watson completed 36-56 passes for 420 yards and three scores, and added 43 yards rushing and a touchdown to lead Clemson to a 35-31 victory over Alabama in the College Football National Championship game to close the 2016 season. Watson completed a two-yard scoring pass to Hunter Renfrow with one second left to give the Tigers the win and the school’s first national title since 1981. Watson was named the MVP on offense thanks to his 463 yards of total offense and four total touchdowns. The previous year against Alabama in the title game he had 405 yards passing and 73 yards rushing for 478 yards of total offense and four scoring passes. Alabama entered the game first in the nation in scoring defense and total defense. Clemson did not have a 100-yard receiver, but had four players between 92 and 95 yards receiving in a game for the first time in history. Renfrow ended the contest with 10 catches for 92 yards. While the score was close, many of the team numbers were not. Clemson ran 99 offensive plays to 66 for Alabama, and controlled the clock for 34:44. Clemson won the passing yardage 420-155 and total offense, 511-376. Clemson had 31 first downs to 16 for Alabama. Alabama was just 2-15 on third down, meaning Alabama and Ohio State were a combined 5-29 on third down in the two playoff games of the 2016 season. Alabama jumped out to a 14-0 lead behind the running of Bo Scarborough. He scored on runs of 25 and 37 yards, one in each quarter. Clemson then came back to within a score on an eight-yard run by Watson to make the count 14-7 at the half. Alabama outscored Clemson 10-7 in the third quarter to take a 24-14 lead entering the fourth quarter. The Crimson Tide had won 97 consecutive games when having a double digit lead in the fourth period. But the Tigers scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth to take a 28-24 lead with 4:38 left. Alabama came back on its next possession to go 68 yards for a score. Jalen Hurts scored on a 30-yard run with 2:07 left. Clemson came back with a 68-yard drive of its own. The drive included a 24-yard pass to Mike Williams, a six-yard completion to Renfrow on third-and-three and a 17-yard pass to Jordan Leggett that brought the ball to the Alabama nine with 14 seconds left. A pass interference penalty on a pass for Williams in the end zone brought the ball to the two. On the next play Watson hit Renfrow with the game winner. The victory gave Clemson a 14-1 record to finish the season, the same as Alabama. Both teams tied the national record for wins in a season 1959 SUGAR BOWL South Carolina, who had been shut out by Clemson the previous two years, scored 20 second half points to take a 26-6 win over Frank Howard’s 1958 team. The only other blemish on the ACC Champions’ 8-2 regular season record was a 13-0 loss at Georgia Tech. For their efforts, the Tigers were invited to play the nation’s number-one team, Louisiana State, in the 25th Sugar Bowl. Louisiana State drove deep into Clemson territory three times in the first half, but two fumbles and a thwarted fake field goal killed the drives. Clemson could do no better, though, as none of its first six drives went past midfield. Clemson moved to the Louisiana State 27-yard-line on its first drive of the second half, but a fumble gave the ball back to the other set of Tigers. On Clemson’s next possession, Louisiana State got the break it had been looking for. On fourth down, the ball slipped out of snapper Paul Snyder’s hands and hit up-man Doug Cline in the leg and Duane Leopard recovered for Louisiana State at the Clemson 11. Louisiana State picked up two yards on its first three tries, but on fourth down halfback Billy Cannon hit tight end Mickey Mangham in the corner of the end zone for the only score of the game. Cannon, who won the Heisman Trophy that year, kicked the extra point and Louisiana State led, 7-0. Clemson had one last chance late in the fourth quarter. The Tigers started at their 17 and 17 plays later were on the Louisiana State 28, but Harvey White’s fourth-down pass to George Usry was incomplete. Louisiana State took over on downs and ran out the clock. In his usual colorful way, Clemson Coach Frank Howard of Clemson said he was pleased with his team. “Hell! I think we’d have beat them if that boy had held onto that little screen pass,” Howard said referring to the fourth-down pass for Usry. “I was going for those two points and beat them. I didn’t think we would hold them to one touchdown, but I didn’t think they would shut us out, either. “Louisiana State has a good team, they rate the No. 1 spot in the nation. Cannon is quite a boy. Deserves his All-American rating.” “It was a wonderful victory. They’re just as fine when you win ‘em, 7-0 as 30-0. I’m very happy that we won,” said Louisiana State Coach Paul Dietzel, who won the national championship at age 34. “Clemson proved tougher than most people figured. But we knew we would have to play at our top peak to beat them. They were a good team.”