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Tide Rolls Tigers: Alabama defeats Clemson 24-6 in the Sugar Bowl

NEW ORLEANS — The Clemson Tigers’ season came to a close with a 24-6 loss to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
The tone was set early, as the first quarter was owned by Alabama. The Tide opened the scoring with a 24-yard field goal on their second offensive possession after Clemson’s defense was able to get a red zone stop to prevent the touchdown. With just twelve seconds left in the quarter, quarterback Jalen Hurts found a wide open Calvin Ridley in the end zone for the first touchdown of the night, giving the Tide a 10-0 lead. When the quarter came to a close, the Tide had out-gained Clemson 102–7 and had ran twice as many plays.
The opening of the second quarter was better for Clemson, as the offense was able to string together a drive and set up an Alex Spence 44-yard field goal. That cut into the Crimson Tide’s lead and made the score 10-3.
Clemson’s offense was able to string a couple more drives together, but were unable to put more points on the board. The offensive line was lackluster the entire half, letting Alabama’s defensive line apply pressure and penetrate on almost every play. Bryant was under duress for a large part of the half and had to make plays on the run.
The defense for Clemson wasn’t much better, though they managed to only give up 10 points. They were slow coming off the ball and let the Tide run all over them. By the time the half ended, Alabama had run 37 plays to Clemson’s 27. However, the half ended on a positive note for Clemson. Andy Poppanastos attempted a 33-yard field goal that was blocked by the Tigers. The play was blown dead for a delay of game, but the second attempt hit the left upright and the Tide ended the drive with no points so the Tigers went into the locker room only down by seven.
The second half also started well for the Tigers. On the first play from scrimmage, Hurts fumbled the ball and Kendall Joseph was able to recover at the Alabama 20. Clemson was unable to score a touchdown after three plays for negative yardage, but Spence hit a 42-yard field goal to make the score 10-6.
Clemson was able to put a nice drive together that included a couple deep shots to Cain, Travis Etienne rushing, and Bryant scrambling.
Just as the Tigers were getting into a rhythm, Bryant was pressured and his pass was tipped at the line and intercepted. That, along with the ensuing horse collar tackle set the Crimson Tide up deep in Tiger territory. Alabama was then able to convert a fourth down to keep their drive alive, sending the Tide fans into a frenzy.
Hurts connected with Ridley to set up first and goal from the one and two plays later found Da’Ron Payne in the end zone for the score. The Tigers were trailing 17-6 with 5:40 left in the third quarter, and all the momentum belonged to Alabama.
On Clemson’s very next play, Bryant had another tipped pass that resulted in a pick-six to put Alabama up 24-6.
Alabama kept the pressure on. Clemson’s offense was stifled again and Bryant was sacked twice on the drive.
After that, Alabama was in control of the game. Clemson’s offense was incapable of doing anything, largely because of the offensive line’s poor performance. Bryant ended the night getting sacked five times, not to mention the plays he was under pressure and forced to scramble. The defense held pretty strong in the last quarter
At the end of the day, Alabama was the more prepared team and played with a fire that Clemson didn’t have. The Crimson Tide exploited the weaknesses the Tigers have had all year and used them to put together a complete game.
Alabama will meet Georgia in the National Championship on Jan. 8 at 8 p.m.

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