TAMPA, Fla. — Alabama football came up short in a quest for a national championship and a perfect season as the Crimson Tide fell 35-31 to Clemson on Monday.
The explosive plays were there. Bo Scarbrough had 2 rushing touchdowns before getting hurt. Jalen Hurts found O.J. Howard wide open for a long touchdown. Hurts also ran for a big touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Problem is, Alabama couldn’t sustain a drive all night. Alabama was an atrocious 2-of-15 on third-down attempts. Credit Clemson’s defense, but Alabama didn’t help themselves with penalties, missed reads and dropped passes.
If we’re being honest, the lack of sustained drives is ultimately what cost Alabama this game. No one can expect a defense to be on the field for 99 plays.
Speaking of Alabama’s defense, they played their asses off given the circumstances. As we mentioned, Alabama’s offense couldn’t put together a drive which left the defense without any breaks.
Clemson ran 99 plays on Alabama’s defense which is the most any team has run on Alabama in program history. Alabama was on the field for an average of 63 plays heading into this game.
Asking a group to be on the field for nearly 100 snaps is too much for anyone no matter how good the defense is. They ultimately wore down and Clemson took advantage. That’s the ball game.
Special teams: B
Punter JK Scott had a strong showing for most of the night. Scott did get one of his punts partially blocked, but that was more of a result of a low snap.
Kicker Adam Griffith made his lone field goal of the night. For the most part, Alabama held Clemson’s return men in check.
Their didn’t appear to be any questions about the game plan for most of the night. It was more about the offensive players not executing and the defensive players being on the field for too long.
If one or two bounces go the other way, Alabama wins this game. Same could be said for Clemson in the title game last year. These were two pretty evenly matched teams, and a lot of it came down to 50-50 plays.
Alabama lost, and sadly for this team, they’ll only be remembered for how they finished. Alabama appeared to be unbeatable for much of the season, but ran into an equally talented team in Clemson on Monday night.
If we’re lucky, we’ll get a third matchup in this budding rivalry.