Sugar Bowl 2018 Preview: A Way-Too-Early Look at Alabama-Clemson

The decision to give the fourth and final playoff spot to one-loss Alabama instead of Big Ten champion Ohio State has set the stage for the ultra-rare re-rematch. For the third season in a row, Alabama and Clemson will meet in the playoff, after splitting the previous two seasons’ meetings.

The only difference this time around is that the clash between these two programs—college football’s finest over the past three years—will come in the Sugar Bowl semifinal rather than the national title game.

It’s a matchup teeming with storylines, but the game itself won’t take place for another four weeks. Anything can happen between now and then, and there are 38 other bowl games before the semifinal kicks off on New Year’s Day. All this goes to say, this preview of Alabama-Clemson Part III is of the way-too-early variety.

Rose Bowl preview: Oklahoma’s O or Georgia’s D?

How both teams got here

Clemson: With authority. The Tigers knew the ACC championship game against Miami served as basically a playoff quarterfinal; a win meant entering the playoff as the likely top seed, while a loss would have almost certainly killed any shot of repeating as national champions.

All Clemson did was absolutely annihilate Miami from the opening whistle in a performance that severely tempered the “Miami is back” talk, at least for now. Clemson carried

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