The sport of college football is built upon its history and tradition. Each week during the season, FootballMatters.org will take a look at some of the history behind some of the upcoming weekend’s top games.
#1 Alabama vs #2 Clemson, Monday, January 9, 7:00 pm, ESPN at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
All-Time Series: The Crimson Tide holds the advantage over the Tigers historically, 13-3.
First Played: 1900
Week after week, since late August through the crucible of the postseason, the 2016-17 college football season all comes down to this. A rematch from the 2015-16 National Championship game will take place on Monday, Jan. 7. Last year, the two schools put on a show for the ages, one in which Alabama ultimately triumphed 45-40. This year, the top two teams in the playoffs will meet head-to-head to again decide who will be this year’s National Champions.
Head Coach Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide will seek to make history; Saban is looking to tie Bear Bryant and win his sixth national title as a head coach. Alabama looks to claim its 17th title overall. For Clemson and Head Coach Dabo Swinney, they are looking to not only avenge last year’s defeat but to win their elusive second National Championship. The Tigers come into the game 13-1, with an offense led by two-time Heisman Trophy finalist DeShaun Watson. The Crimson Tide are undefeated at 14-0 and are led by stellar defensive end Jonathan Allen, this year’s Bednarik, Nagurski, and Hendricks award winner.
It will be a true clash of titans when the teams take the field at Raymond James Stadium. Notable games include:
October 25, 1905 – When the Clemson Tigers and the then Alabama Crimson White met in 1905, this was just the third matchup between the two schools and both programs had yet to achieve the national prominence they would attain later in history. However, the clash between the two schools would prove to be a memorable one. Led by two first-year Head Coaches – Alabama’s Jack Leavenworth and Clemson’s Eddie Cochems – the two schools took the field in Columbia, South Carolina. The Tigers, behind the stellar offensive line play of team captain Puss Derrick, shutout Alabama 25-0. The one-sided victory by Clemson would prove to be the last they would achieve over the team from Tuscaloosa.
October 26, 1968 – Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa was the site for this meeting between the two schools. Despite having a bit of a down year, Head Coach Frank Howard’s Tigers were amped up for the game and a chance the previous year’s close loss at home to Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide. Alabama’s quarterback, Scott Hunter, helped get the team off to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. The Tigers came roaring back and tied the game going into fourth quarter. Hunter would again come through in the fourth quarter, tossing a 30-yard touchdown pass to George Ranager. With the score 21-14, Clemson’s Billy Ammons was intercepted later in the game to preserve the win for Alabama and make their all-time series lead 9-3.
August 30, 2008 – The 2008 edition of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic featured a clash between the then #24 ranked Crimson Tide and the then #9 ranked Tigers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Nick Saban was in his second year at the helm for Alabama, while Tommy Bowden was in his sixth for Clemson. Saban’s squad jumped out to an early 13-0 and never looked back. Quarterback John Parker Wilson was stellar for the Crimson Tide and he led the team to a 23-3 halftime lead. Alabama’s defense was equally impressive, shutting down the Tigers’ “Thunder and Lightning” backfield of James Davis and C.J. Spiller; the duo was limited to 20 yards total on the ground. When the dust settled, Alabama had won convincingly 34-10 and improved their all-time mark to 12-3. Saban’s group would ultimately lose in that year’s SEC Championship Game to Florida and be turned away in the Sugar Bowl against Utah. After the sixth game of the season, Bowden resigned, giving way to Swinney who led the team the rest of the way where they would eventually come up short against Nebraska in the Gator Bowl. The game would set the tone for the two schools going into the next decade.