Clemson dominated Alabama 44-16 for the College Football Playoff National Championship. Here’s what it all means.
5. The Clemson defensive line was on a mission
It all kicked in from the start when DT Christian Wilkins and DE Austin Bryant decided to come back for one more season. Thrown fellow future NFL starters in Dexter Lawrence – at least, for most of the season – and Clelin Ferrell, and the line became the focus for the team.
This group wasn’t just looking to be good. It put the pressure on itself to be among the all-time greatest front fours, and if it’s not, it wasn’t all that far off.
No one ran on this group with any regularity. The pass rush was tremendous, the third down stops were always there, and as shown time and again on key plays throughout the national championship, it wasn’t going to give up a thing.
Bama was able to pound away a bit. It was able to control the game and the clock for stretches, but when the bending stopped, the Tiger D line didn’t break after a few early scores.
There were only two sacks and seven tackles for loss, but this group had Tua Tagovailoa uncomfortable all night long.
Ferrell was a factor on several good plays. Bryant rag-dolled Bama star OT Jonah Williams on one play to disrupt things. Wilkins was a rock throughout. Lawrence replacement Albert Huggins ended up with five tackles.
It all worked.
With this front four, Clemson had it veteran rock. And the young superstars on the other side did the rest.