College Football Playoff Semifinal
at the Allstate Sugar Bowl
January 1, 2018 – Mercedes-Benz Superdome
New Orleans, La.
No. 4 Alabama 24, No. 1 Clemson 6
With Alabama’s 24-6 victory over Clemson, the Crimson Tide moved to 9-7 at the Sugar Bowl, increasing its record win-total in the contest. Clemson fell to 0-2 in the Sugar Bowl.
The SEC and ACC in the Sugar Bowl
With Alabama’s victory, the SEC moves to 36-41-1 at the Sugar Bowl, while ACC schools are now 17-13-1.
ACC vs. SEC
This was the seventh official showdown between the SEC and the ACC in New Orleans. With Alabama’s win, the SEC moves to 5-2 against the ACC in the Sugar Bowl.
Saban Joins Rare Company
With Alabama’s win, Nick Saban becomes just the seventh coach in the history of the Sugar Bowl to win three or more games. Saban joins Paul “Bear” Bryant (8-1), Bobby Bowden (4-2), Bobby Dodd (3-0), Johnny Majors (3-0), Tom Osborne (3-0) and Johnny Vaught (5-3) in the Sugar Bowl history books.
With Clemson’s loss, Dabo Swinney becomes the 50th head coach to lose his Sugar Bowl debut. Clemson’s loss marks the third-consecutive season in which a head coach lost his Sugar Bowl debut, with Swinney joining Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy (2016) and Auburn’s Guz Malzahn (2017).
Now 0-2 in the Sugar Bowl, Clemson became the 11th program to drop its first two appearances in the Sugar Bowl. Below is a complete list of programs who have done so, including the results of each of their first two appearances. The programs are listed in alphabetical order:
Team First Appearance Second Appearance
Alabama 29-26 vs. Duke, 1/1/1945 27-7 vs. Texas, 1/1/1948
Arkansas 10-3 vs. Alabama, 1/1/1962 17-13 vs. Ole Miss, 1/1/1963
Clemson 7-0 vs. LSU, 1/1/1959 24-6 vs. Alabama, 1/1/2018
Florida 20-18 vs. Missouri, 1/1/1966 13-10 vs. Nebraska, 12/31/1974
LSU 3-2 vs. TCU, 1/1/1936 21-14 vs. Santa Clara, 1/1/1937
Ole Miss 24-7 vs. Georgia Tech, 1/1/1953 21-0 vs. Navy, 1/1/1955
North Carolina 20-10 vs. Georgia, 1/1/1947 14-6 vs. Oklahoma, 1/1/1949
Ohio State 35-6 vs. Alabama, 1/2/1978 31-14 vs. Florida State, 1/1/1998
Penn State 14-0 vs. Oklahoma, 12/31/1972 13-6 vs. Alabama, 12/31/1975
Tulsa 14-7 vs. Tennessee, 1/1/1943 20-18 vs. Georgia Tech, 1/1/1944
West Virginia 42-19 vs. Georgia Tech, 1/1/1954 41-7 vs. Florida, 1/1/1994
No End Zone for Tigers
Clemson failed to reach the end zone in the 84th annual Sugar Bowl, becoming the first team that failed to score a touchdown in the Sugar Bowl since Auburn scored just nine points on three field goals in a 9-7 win over Michigan in 1984. The last team that failed to score a touchdown and lost in the Sugar Bowl was Georgia in 1977, when they fell to Pittsburgh, 27-3. The coach of that Pitt squad, Johnny Majors, was in attendance as he was part of the inaugural class of the Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame.
Clemson managed just 188 yards of offense on the day, becoming the first Sugar Bowl squad that missed the 200-yard mark of total offense since 2012, when Michigan racked up just 184 yards.
Low Offensive Output
Alabama (261 yards of offense) and Clemson (188 yards of offense) combined for just 449 yards of total offense on the evening, marking the first time since 2003 that neither Sugar Bowl team totaled 300 yards of offense. In that contest, Georgia notched 276 yards while Florida State posted just 262. The 449 combined yards were the fewest in a Sugar Bowl since 1969 when Arkansas (225) and Georgia (192) combined for just 417. Interestingly, the low offensive output from both teams snapped a four-year stretch in which one Sugar Bowl team surpassed 500 yards of offense on tis own (Oklahoma had 524 in 2017, Ole Miss had 554 in 2016, Ohio State had 537 in 2015 and Alabama had 516 in 2014).
For the second time in three Sugar Bowls, a team managed to post less than 70 yards rushing, as Clemson totaled just 64. Two years ago, Oklahoma State mustered just 63 yards on the ground.
Living in the Backfield
Alabama notched nine tackles for loss, including 5.0 sacks. Crimson Tide LB Anfernee Jennings posted three tackles for loss on the evening, tying him for the third most in a Sugar Bowl performance.
Alabama’s 5.0 sacks are tied for the most in a Playoff Semifinal game, joining the 5.0 Alabama posted against Washington in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31, 2016, as well as the 5.0 notched by Clemson against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31, 2015.
Alabama (two for 10 yards) and Clemson (four for 29 yards) combined for just six penalties for 39 yards on the day, making the 84th edition of the Sugar Bowl a relatively clean one. The six penalties were the fewest since Ohio State and Alabama combined for just five in 1978. The 39 combined penalty yards were the fewest since Penn State and Alabama combined for just 22 in the 1975 Sugar Bowl.
10 Penalty Yards
Alabama knows how to play disciplined football. The 10 yards on just two penalties marked the lowest penalty yardage in a Sugar Bowl since the 1978 Crimson Tide squad posted just five yards on one penalty against Ohio State in a 35-6 victory.
Started With a Kick
Alabama’s Andy Pappanastos got the scoring started with a 24-yard field goal with 5:23 left on the clock in the first quarter. The opening field goal marked the third time in the last four contests that the first score of the Sugar Bowl was a field goal. Ohio State’s Sean Nuernberger kicked a 22-yard field goal with 11:32 in the first quarter during the 2015 iteration of the Sugar Bowl, while Ben Grogan of Oklahoma State got things started a year later with a 26-yard kick with 4:52 left on the clock in the opening stanza.
Second-Consecutive Year With Shutout Pitched in Opening Quarter
For the second-straight year, a team failed to find the end zone in the first quarter, as Clemson was held scoreless by Alabama. A year ago, Auburn held Oklahoma from reaching paydirt after leading 7-0 at the conclusion of the first quarter.
That Leg Has Range
Clemson’s Austin Spence nailed a 44-yard field goal with 10:00 on the clock in the second quarter. Spence’s boom marked the second-year in a row that a 40-yard field goal was made in a Sugar Bowl, as Auburn’s Daniel Carlson hit one from 49 yards out a year ago. There were no 40-yard field goals in the 2015 and 2016 versions of the Sugar Bowl.
Fourth-Longest Field Goal in Playoff Semifinal
Spence’s 44-yard field goal also enters the record book as the fourth-longest field goal in a Playoff Semifinal game. It was the second-longest on the day, as Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship knocked one through the uprights from 55 yards out as time expired in the second quarter of the Rose Bowl earlier today. Blankenship’s kick is the longest in a Playoff Semifinal game.
Spence’s Big Day
Spence added a second field goal of 42 yards with 12:45 left in the third quarter, marking his second make of 40 yards or more on the day. Spence became the first kicker to nail two 40-yard field goals in one Sugar Bowl since Arkansas’ Zack Hocker knocked in field goals from 46 and 47 yards out during the 2011 Sugar Bowl against Ohio State.
First Half Favors the Underdog
No. 4 Alabama led No. 1 Clemson 10-3 at the halfway point of the Sugar Bowl, marking the first time since 2014 that the lower ranked team led at halftime. On Jan. 2, 2014, No. 11 Oklahoma led No. 3 Alabama, 31-17, on its way to a 45-31 victory.
Missing The Century Mark In First-Half Yards
Clemson managed just 73 total yards in the first half of the Sugar Bowl against Alabama, becoming the first team to fail to meet the century mark in the opening half since Hawaii posted just 90 yards during the 2008 contest vs. Georgia.
Fewest Points in First Half since 2005
Clemson and Alabama combined for just 13 points in the first half of the 84th Sugar Bowl, making it the lowest scoring opening half of the Sugar Bowl since the 2005 version when Auburn held a 9-0 lead over Virginia Tech.
Bringing the Payne
There’s nothing like rewarding your defender for doing his job. Alabama did just that in the third quarter, when senior DL Da’Ron Payne picked off a pass from Clemson QB Kelly Bryant with 9:18 on the clock. Shortly thereafter, Payne lined up at fullback and caught a one-yard pass from Crimson Tide QB Jalen Hurts with 5:35 on the clock in the third quarter to give Alabama a 17-6 lead.
Back-to-Back Touchdowns After Turnovers
On the first play of the ensuing Clemson drive following the aforementioned touchdown by Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne, the Crimson Tide’s LB Mack Wilson picked off Clemson QB Kelly Bryant before returning it 18 yards for a touchdown. Alabama notched 14 points on back-to-back turnovers by Clemson.
Interception Return for a Touchdown
Alabama LB Mack Wilson became the first player in the Sugar Bowl to return an interception for a touchdown since Ohio State’s Steve Miller returned one 41 yards for a score against Alabama in 2015.
Clemson’s Kendall Joseph tallied 10 total tackles (7 solo, 3 assist), giving the Sugar Bowl a defender with 10-plus tackles in back-to-back years. Oklahoma’s Caleb Kelly posted 12 tackles last year against Auburn. the first player to post 10+ tackles in a Sugar Bowl since Curtis Grant (10 total) and Landon Collins (12 total) of Ohio State and Alabama, respectively, did so during the Jan. 1, 2015 Sugar Bowl.
With an official attendance of 72,360, this year’s Sugar Bowl marked the 62nd time in the Sugar Bowl’s 84-year history that it has featured over 70,000 fans.
Game captains for Alabama were junior DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, senior LB Shaun Dion Hamilton, senior LB Rashaan Evans and redshirt-senior OL Bradley Bozeman. Game captains for Clemson were junior DL Christian Wilkins, redshirt-junior OG Taylor Hearn, redshirt-senior CB Ryan Carter, redshirt-senior LB Dorian O’Daniel, redshirt-senior OL Maverick Morris and redshirt-senior OG Tyrone Crowder.
This year’s Sugar Bowl marked just the second time in history that two teams have met in three consecutive postseasons. The only other time it happened was when Ohio State and USC met in three straight Rose Bowls (1973-74-75).
This year’s Sugar Bowl marked the 19th time that a pair of top five teams (based on AP Poll) matched up in the Sugar Bowl. The first time was in the 1936 contest when No. 4 TCU topped No. 1 LSU, 3-2. The most recent time was the 2015 Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl when No. 4 Ohio State held off No. 1 Alabama, 42-35.
Clemson was817-609-3550) the 22nd defending national champion to play in the Sugar Bowl. The last defending champ was Florida, the 2008 BCS National Champion, which rolled to a 51-24 win over Cincinnati in the 2010 Sugar Bowl.
Clemson was the 88th conference champion to play in the Sugar Bowl. The Tigers were also conference champions in their first Sugar Bowl visit following the 1958 season.
Dabo Swinney became just the second coach in Sugar Bowl history to face off against his alma mater. Swinney, a 1993 Alabama graduate, joined Urban Meyer, who coached Florida to a 51-24 victory over his alma mater of Cincinnati in the 2010 Allstate Sugar Bowl.
While Dabo Swinney made his Sugar Bowl coaching debut, the Alabama native was a wide receiver for Alabama in the Crimson Tide’s 1993 Sugar Bowl victory over Miami, which clinched a national title. Swinney was also on the Alabama roster for a 1990 Sugar Bowl loss to Miami. He will become the 10th person to be a player and a head coach in the 84-year history of the Classic.
Name Player Coach
Gaynell Tinsley 1936, 1937 (LSU) 1950 (LSU)
Frank Broyles 1944 (Georgia Tech) 1962, 1963, 1969, 1970 (Arkansas)
Darrell Royal 1949, 1950 (Oklahoma) 1958 (Texas)
George Welsh 1955 (Navy) 1991 (Virginia)
Johnny Majors 1956 (Tennessee) 1977 (Pitt), 1986, 1991 (Tennessee)
Bill Battle 1962 (Alabama) 1971 (Tennessee)
Jimmy Johnson 1963 (Arkansas) 1986 (Miami)
Jackie Sherrill 1964 (Alabama) 1982 (Pitt)
Steve Spurrier 1966 (Florida) 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2001 (Florida)
National Champions in New Orleans
When Alabama defeated Georgia in the CFP Championship, the Crimson Tide became the 28th national champion hosted by the Sugar Bowl in its history. Some of the national champions earned that title following a victory in New Orleans, some had been crowned as national champions prior to the Sugar Bowl (including two years in which the Bowl hosted two national champions) and two had to go on to win another game following its Sugar Bowl win to earn the crown (Ohio State in the 2015 Playoff Semifinal and Alabama this year). See the Inside Front Cover of the History & Record Book for a full listing.
Random Stat History
In the first 84 editions of the Sugar Bowl, the higher-ranked team has posted a 49-34-1 record – however, over the past four decades (since 1980), the higher-seeded team only has a 20-18-1 advantage. This year’s game will be the 21st Sugar Bowl to be played on a Monday. For what it’s worth, the higher-ranked team has now posted a 14-7 mark in Monday Sugar Bowls. It was also be the 39th Sugar Bowl to be played at night versus 45 day games.