'Bama-Clemson: The Sequel

January 5, 2017 by Dave Congrove

872 games have been played since Alabama defeated Clemson 45-40 to win the 2016 College Football Playoff Championship game. And we're right back to where we were after the events that unfolded on January 11, 2016.

In fact, not only is the title matchup a repeat of year ago, but the odds and prediction haven't really changed either.

Last year, Alabama opened as a touchdown favorite, and the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com gave the Tide a 9.97-point edge. This year, Alabama opened as a touchdown favorite, and the computer favors the Tide by 9.64.

Even the semifinal games were near mirror images of a year ago. Though two different teams were involved, both matchups were blowouts.

In 2016, Alabama rolled Michigan State 38-0 and Clemson beat Oklahoma 37-17. This year, Alabama shut down Washington 24-7 and Clemson blanked Ohio State 31-0. Those semifinal contests were just a road bump, delaying the inevitable final for another week.

With so many similarities on the surface, I began to wonder how many other things hadn't changed.

Offense - In 2015, Alabama averaged 427 yards per game. This year, the Crimson Tide averaged 460 yards per game for a modest improvement of 33 yards per game. Clemson dropped slightly from 514 to 503.

Scoring - Alabama averaged 35.1 points per game in 2015 while Clemson averaged 38.5 PPG. This year, 'Bama averaged 39.4 and Clemson 39.5. Again, a negligible difference.

Defense - Alabama allowed 276 yards per game in 2015 while Clemson surrendered 313. This year, 'Bama held opponents to 244 yards per game and Clemson allowed 306.

Scoring Defense - Alabama gave up 15.1 points per game in 2015, compared with Clemson at 21.7. This year, 'Bama allowed 11.4 PPG vs. Clemson's 17.1, Thus, both teams were more stingy by 4 points per game so that stat also becomes a wash in the head-to-head matchup.

Schedule Strength - Last year Clemson's schedule finished the year ranked 13th while 'Bama's was No. 1. This year, Clemson's schedule is ranked 13th again while 'Bama's is ranked 2nd.

Now, if the score becomes 45-40 again, our deja vu experience will be complete.