The stage is now officially set for the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship game. Following a dominant victory by the Clemson Tigers over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish by a score of 30-3 in the Cotton Bowl, attention shifted to Miami, Florida for the Orange Bowl. The top-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide held off Kyler Murray and the Oklahoma Sooners 45-34 to lock in the national title matchup.
This sets up a rematch of two of the last three national title games from the 2015 and 2016 seasons. In the first matchup, Alabama won 45-40 while Clemson took the second game by a score of 35-31. With Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban’s teams set to square off as the top two overall ranked teams in the nation, there’s bound to be plenty of headlines in this game.
Before we dive into the vote on who you think will win the national championship, let’s take a look at how the two teams got here.
Clemson’s Run to the National Championship
The Tigers put together an impressive run through the regular season while finishing the year with a 14-0 record. Clemson knocked off the Pittsburgh Panthers 42-10 to win the ACC Championship but one big question about this team heading into the postseason was about their schedule.
Clemson defeated just two ranked teams all season (at the time they met) in the North Carolina State Wolfpack and Boston College Eagles. They silenced many doubters by rolling past the Fighting Irish behind the 327 passing yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
While Lawrence put together a strong season after taking over under center for Kelly Bryant, it was a well-rounded effort which led to Clemson’s success. Running back Travis Etienne was exceptional this season as well, running for 1,572 yards on 190 attempts (8.3 yards per carry) with 22 touchdowns.
Alabama’s Run to the National Championship
The Crimson Tide finished the year as the No. 1 team in the country and rolled to a 13-0 record which was complete with an SEC Championship. Alabama topped the No. 4 ranked Georgia Bulldogs 35-28 in what many believed was a chance to go to the national title game. Throughout the season, Saban’s team defeated four top-25 teams, including a shutout of the then-third-ranked LSU Tigers by a score of 29-0 on the road.
Behind quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s 318 passing yards and four touchdowns, Alabama topped Kyler Murray and the Sooners 45-34 to head to the championship. Following the Orange Bowl win, Tagovailoa’s impressive 2018 campaign got even better, as he’s totaled 3,671 passing yards and 46 total touchdowns.
The Crimson Tide featured a well-rounded group on both sides of the ball as well, and Tagovailoa had quite a bit of help. Sophomore wide receiver Jerry Jeudy has now totaled 63 receptions for 1,176 yards and 13 touchdowns this year. On the ground, Alabama has totaled 24 touchdowns from their top three running backs in Damien Harris, Josh Jacobs and Najee Harris.