National Championship Mini-Preview: Alabama vs. Clemson

National Championship Mini-Preview: Alabama vs. Clemson

January 9, 2017

Artavis Scott


The game will start shortly after 8:00 p.m. The broadcast will be on ESPN with Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Samantha Ponder, and Tom Rinaldi in their various booth and sideline roles.


  • Players offered by Michigan: DT Jonathan Allen, CB Shyheim Carter, LB Ben Davis, CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, TE Miller Forristall, WR Robert Foster, LB Terrell Hall, DE Da’shawn Hand, RB Damien Harris, TE Hale Hentges, CB Nigel Knott, CB Jared Mayden, LB Joshua McMillon, RB Bo Scarbrough, TE Irv Smith, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, OT Jonah Williams, LB Mack Wilson
  • RB Damien Harris is a one-time Michigan commit


  • Players offered by Clemson: DE Austin Bryant, WR T.J. Chase, DE Clelin Ferrell, OT Jake Fruhmorgen, OG Zach Giella, OT Mitch Hyatt, CB Trayvon Mullen, S Tanner Muse, LB Dorian O’Daniel, WR Diondre Overton, DT Scott Pagano, WR Artavis Scott,
  • WR Artavis Scott was a high school teammate of Michigan center Mason Cole


  • Alabama could become the first team to go 15-0.
  • Alabama beat Clemson 45-40 in last year’s national championship game.
  • Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was hired for that role next year, but he steps in early after offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin left for the head coaching job at FAU. Sarkisian was just an offensive analyst on staff prior to this promotion.


  • I saw Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney at a clinic a couple years ago. After that and reading about him, I really like the guy. He seems like a very down-to-Earth type of person, and he’s genuine in his passion for the game of football. I also saw Nick Saban at a clinic several years ago, and I was not as impressed. I know Saban has had a lot more success, but Swinney’s a tough guy not to like, in my opinion.


  • Clemson lost a lot of talent last year. I know every elite team does, but their personnel losses were significant on the defensive line and in the defensive backfield. They’ve got a puncher’s chance, and I love their wide receivers.
  • Alabama is very good at every level. Clemson has an obvious advantage at QB with Deshaun Watson over Jalen Hurts, and they also have an advantage at WR. But that’s about it.
  • Alabama 38, Clemson 34


  1. Comments: 3181
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Jan 09, 2017 at 1:26 PM

    The Dashaun Hand recruitment seems like a good one to look back on. Clearly a very good player Michigan would have loved to have landed but it’s worth noting that the Wormley/Charlton duo was probably just as good, if not better. Not as big of a loss as it looked like at the time of his commitment. Perhaps we’ll feel the same about Najee Harris (though in fairness it seemed like Hand’s interest was more legitimate than Harris’).

    • Comments: 2083
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 09, 2017 at 2:13 PM

      I think Hand’s interest was longer lasting rather than seemingly spiking for a couple months, but I don’t think Hand ever gave the coaching staff reason to believe he WOULD be picking Michigan.

    • Comments: 130
      Joined: 9/15/2015
      Jan 09, 2017 at 6:16 PM

      fitzpatrick also seriously considered m correct? i thought he was great in hs (and thought he was head and shoulders better than iman marshall who many preferred for some reason) and think hes great now (certainly more impactful than hand) – sure wouldve been nice to see fitzpatrick in maize and blue. maybe they didnt have a great shot at landing him, just thought i recalled him being very interested only to eventually pick bama.
      clelin ferrell is another player i recall as having serious interest in m though not sure if m had a hat on the table or whatever when he chose clemson. another talented hs prospect who wouldve been a huge addition to m roster. interested to see ferrell as he develops even further next year bc hes a good player and fun to watch.

      unfortunately the 2014-2015 classes will likely be an issue for several more years so ill prob follow careers and development a little extra on prospects m passed on or just missed on signing – ive said it before but it wouldve been huge to add or hold onto even just 1-2 more potential impact guys from 2015 transition class like ferrell, roseboro, crawford, etc. most people were harping on skill position players that landed elsewhere like damien harris, george campbell (though now looks like deontay burnett mightve been the WR theyll really miss), etc but next years depth chart looks much “safer” with another serious contributor at OL, DL, DB vs the fancier RBs or WRs.
      also obviously hurts to lose a dude like brian cole whos precisely the type of rangy, impact safety m needs on roster but thats not exactly related and totally different (as he signed, made it campus, then broke team rules). bottom line, itd be huge to have even 1 more body each at DL, OL and DB, especially experienced 3rd or 4th year players – and its interesting and occasionally frustrating to follow some of the ex-commits and prospects m nearly signed / just missed.

      hopefully they end up with great batting averages in the larger 2016-2017 classes and receive consistent play from a variety of young guys to help offset the weaker (and smaller) 14 and 15 classes since theyll be relying on like 55-60 1st & 2nd year players and not many scholarship upperclassmen next fall – and a nice byproduct of crazy good hit ratio with early impact from 16 and 17 classes would be some of us might feel a little better watching guys that mightve been wolverines (like fitzpatrick, crawford, ferrell, roseboro, etc) tear it up for other squads

      • Comments: 2083
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Jan 09, 2017 at 7:25 PM

        Yes, Fitzpatrick and Ferrell were both high on Michigan. Ferrell ended up committing to Clemson pretty early (June), and Fitzpatrick didn’t take an official or anything. Michigan wasn’t going to get many of those elite-level guys in the 2015 class when Brady Hoke was on the hot seat.

  2. Comments: 3181
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Jan 09, 2017 at 1:30 PM

    I think I’m going to root for Alabama on the logic that I’d rather have 1 juggernaut to topple than two. We may lose some recruits to Alabama but until we topple OSU their success doesn’t affect us too directly. We do lose some kids to Clemson too, but – for now – that’s less common. A national title might change that.

  3. DonAZ
    Comments: 319
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    Jan 09, 2017 at 1:48 PM

    I’m rooting for Clemson if only because they seem like scrappers, and because Alabama is looking more and more like UCLA basketball in the 1960’s.

    One reason to root for Alabama … if Clemson were to win, then Ohio State’s loss to Clemson would be less painful for OSU. “They ended up winning the NC, so we lost to the eventual champion.” If Alabama wins, and does so handily, then the gap between OSU and Alabama huge. And while that won’t change much in the short term, anything that pokes OSU in the eye is a good thing.

    I wonder would would win between OSU and Washington?

    • Comments: 113
      Joined: 12/24/2016
      Jan 09, 2017 at 5:56 PM

      Good chuckle. Clemson enjoyably gave OSU more than a poke in the eye. At that post game presser Urban Meyer had the same look & demeanor that General von Paulus had when he surrendered to the Russians at the Battle of Stalingrad………. Meyer was visibly rattled – that game took some measure of psychological confidence from the guy.


  4. Comments: 904
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Jan 09, 2017 at 2:20 PM

    I think Dabo Swinney does just a terrific job at Clemson. Particularly when you consider that he’s recruiting to a an academic first campus filled with women that don’t even tease.

    • Comments: 4
      Joined: 1/9/2017
      Jan 09, 2017 at 2:53 PM

      “academic first campus”… sarcasm? Pretty sure I saw Clemson has a 51% acceptance rate.

      • Comments: 904
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        Jan 09, 2017 at 3:58 PM

        It’s a geography joke.

        • Comments: 4
          Joined: 1/9/2017
          Jan 09, 2017 at 5:29 PM

          Thought as much!

          • Comments: 904
            Joined: 8/13/2015
            Jan 09, 2017 at 8:01 PM

            And bingo. Although it took five hours and 7 minutes for the call, up from the about 18 mins the first time. We couldn’t even generate a bet as we agreed completely of Clemson’s fine academics, upstanding young women and impending victory.

            Apologies to you pkatz. Some years ago, we lost a kid to Clemson and somebody was lamenting over, how is this possible? Having partied there some as a young man, I mentioned that Clemson is ….. I mean was ….. a great party school with outstanding women. This would have been at my most frequent posting time of about 6:30 am. Before 7 am, I received a call from a Michigan buddy with a daughter on an athletic scholarship to Clemson who knows I am Roanman. He chastised me for my characterization of the University, it’s academics and assuring me of the modest nature of Clemson girls. I have completely taken him at his word, particularly on that last thing, as we have shared the fact of having had nearly identical conversations with our kids. That conversation went something like this, “There is nothing you can think to try that I didn’t already do. So just do yourself a big favor and forget about it.” Then we do the eyes on you thing.

  5. Comments: 113
    Joined: 12/24/2016
    Jan 10, 2017 at 12:38 AM

    Post Game:
    Great game; Clemson clearly the better team:
    After giving Bama 10 points off turnovers; Clemson able to dig out ,come back for the win. Without those to’s this game wouldn’t have been close. Winners find a way to win and NC St found a way to lose or all of this might have been RAH EEEE ly different………..

    Definitely saw Tigers at their best against the Buckeyes.
    ………and I still think Penn St. should have been in the playoff not OSU.

    Close the books on 2016; finish crootin’ and bring on Spring ball!
    Happy 2017
    As I see it…………….INTJohn

  6. Comments: 904
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Jan 10, 2017 at 6:28 AM

    I’m not sure I have ever seen two better teams of athletes play each other at the college level. That was just an awesome exhibition of size with speed.

    Deshawn Watson!!!!!

  7. Comments: 3181
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Jan 10, 2017 at 2:35 PM

    I thought Alabama would win this game 8 out of 10 times but I have to give Clemson credit for playing well and adjust that number down to Alabama winning 6.5 to 7 times out of 10 instead.

  8. Comments: 3181
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Jan 10, 2017 at 2:36 PM

    I would take either of the two TEs in this game over Jake Butt in a heartbeat.

    • Comments: 2083
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 10, 2017 at 3:43 PM

      I agree. That’s why I made the point not long ago that I was surprised Jake Butt won the Mackey Award. Jon Chait over on MGoBlog strongly disagreed with me, saying Butt was clearly the best TE in college football.

      • Comments: 3181
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Jan 10, 2017 at 4:28 PM

        Well hey, you got a high profile national political writer talking with you so there’s that.

        Butt was very good, but overrated by many fans and mgoblog. I honestly don’t think we’ll miss him much next year even though he was such a good pass catcher. His best asset to the 2016 team was probably drawing defensive attention away from others. Valuable yes but far from irreplaceable.

        The blocking was a real issue that many tried to diminish but that’s the reason PFF thought Iowa’s TE was better than Butt.

  9. Comments: 3181
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Jan 10, 2017 at 4:30 PM

    This game did make me want to have a big fast WR like Mike Williams. Kid was a difference maker.

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