CFP 2019 Live Stream

CFP 2019 Live Stream,College Football Playoff championship game: Alabama vs. Clemson preview.Clemson’s Christian Wilkins will end his fourth and final season with the Tigers the same way he has ended each of the prior three: with a showdown against Alabama, and for the third time it comes in the College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T (Monday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App).

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“I guess the only comparison is the Rocky movies,” he said. “I know after three it’s a trilogy. But what’s four?”

It’s a good question, though it’s doubtful Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney have spent much time researching it. The on-field questions, however, deserve plenty of attention.

Sure, this is a matchup between two teams that know each other pretty well by now. Alabama came back to beat Clemson for a national championship to cap the 2015 season. Clemson returned the favor in 2016. Last season, the Tide topped the Tigers in the Allstate Sugar Bowl before upending Georgia for another title. And there are plenty of holdovers from those three, from Wilkins to the coaches to the undeniable heavyweight fight comparisons. But a lot has changed, too, and so we’re digging into the details — and hopefully avoiding too many Rocky allusions — to find out who has the advantage in Part IV of college football’s biggest rivalry.

Alabama X factor: Safety Deionte Thompson will have his hands full with all of Clemson’s receivers, but Hunter Renfrow is another animal. Thompson can ask his predecessor, Minkah Fitzpatrick, about that. Fitzpatrick, a first-round pick and perhaps the best defensive back ever to come through Tuscaloosa, was torched by Renfrow in the team’s three previous playoff matchups, where he caught a combined 22 passes for 211 yards and four touchdowns, including the winner in 2016. This game — barring an 18th year of eligibility — will be Renfrow’s last chance to hurt the Tide, and it’s up to Thompson to stop him on those pivotal third downs and red zone opportunities where he has been particularly effective.

Junior DB Deionte Thompson speaks with Paul Finebaum about his relationship with Nick Saban and the pressure to live up to past Crimson Tide defenses.

Clemson’s X factor: Renfrow seems the obvious answer here given his history against Alabama, but that success means he’ll already have the Tide’s attention. So instead, turn your attention to the defense, where Isaiah Simmons blossomed into the Tigers’ leading tackler during the regular season and will be tasked with slowing down Alabama’s slot receivers in the national championship game. Dorian O’Daniel was a key to Clemson’s defense last season at the nickel/strongside linebacker spot, and Simmons has done admirably filling that hole in 2018, but this will be his biggest challenge of the season.

Alabama’s breakout star: He gets overlooked, with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and fellow wide receiver Jerry Jeudy dominating the postseason awards circuit, but Henry Ruggs III could be a real problem for a shaky Clemson secondary. The sophomore from Montgomery, Alabama, can take the top off a defense with his speed. This season, he has averaged 16.4 yards per catch. All told, he has 45 receptions for 738 yards and 11 touchdowns. If the focus shifts too much to the Biletnikoff Award winner, Jeudy, don’t be surprised if Ruggs shows off his wheels and hands against the Tigers.

Clemson’s breakout star: Justyn Ross was already a known commodity even before demolishing Notre Dame’s secondary in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, but this game comes with even bigger stakes and an even bigger spotlight. Then there’s the little matter of Ross being from Alabama and a top Tide target on the recruiting trail. The freshman has been a force in a backup role for Clemson all season, with 847 yards and eight touchdown grabs, but if he has a big game against his home-state team, you can be sure it’ll put his name into headlines well outside of Clemson.

Clemson’s Ross erupts for 2 TDs & 100+ yards in 1st half

Justyn Ross racks up 137 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the first half of the Cotton Bowl as Clemson leads Notre Dame.

Matchups to watch

When Alabama has the ball: If you’re looking for a weak link on the Clemson defense, it’s the secondary. And rest assured that Tanner Muse & Co. are going to be tested by Alabama in ways that neither Notre Dame nor any other team the Tigers faced this season were capable of. We already mentioned Ruggs, and everyone already ought to know about Jeudy and his 1,176 yards and 13 touchdowns. But it’s more than only those two. It’s DeVonta Smith, last season’s title-game hero who finally looked healthy again against Oklahoma when he caught six passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. It’s also Jaylen Waddle, the lightning-fast freshman with 823 yards and seven touchdowns this season. And lest we forget, it’s also Irv Smith Jr., an NFL-caliber tight end, who has seven touchdowns this season as well and could be a big-time red zone target Monday in Santa Clara, California.

When Clemson has the ball: The Tigers led the nation in rushing between the tackles, averaging nearly 7.4 yards per carry. For the season, Clemson gave up only four sacks from pass-rushers coming up the middle. Those are good signs but hardly enough to make anyone confident going against the likes of Quinnen Williams. Alabama’s defensive front, led by Williams, is stout, and it has been largely successful containing Clemson’s running game in the three most recent meetings. The difference this time is that Trevor Lawrence, while athletic, is not a run-first QB who can make up for a quickly collapsing pocket or a lackluster night from his tailbacks. That means there’s plenty of pressure on the Tigers’ Sean Pollard, Justin Falcinelli and John Simpson to hold their own in the trenches. Lawrence’s quick release takes some of the pressure off, and Travis Etienne has vowed a better performance than last season’s Sugar Bowl from the run game, but Williams is the biggest obstacle Clemson has faced all season at the point of attack.

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