NEW ORLEANS — A pair of Alabama defensive players scored touchdowns 13 seconds apart in the third quarter, and the No. 4 Crimson Tide dominated top-ranked Clemson 24-6 in the Sugar Bowl semifinal game Monday night to give coach Nick Saban another shot at his record sixth national title.
The third straight playoff meeting between the college football powerhouses was a dud compared to their previous two meetings, both high-scoring classics with the national championship on the line.
Without Deshaun Watson, Clemson (12-2) simply has no answer for Saban’s latest group of defensive standouts, sending Alabama (12-1) to an all-Southeastern Conference showdown against Georgia next Monday night in Atlanta.
Da’Ron Payne, a 308-pound defensive lineman, hauled in a 1-yard touchdown pass to put the Tide ahead 17-6. On Clemson’s next play, Kelly Bryant’s pass deflected off the hands of his receiver and was picked off by Mack Wilson, who returned it 18 yards for a clinching touchdown.