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Matchup: No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 11 Clemson Tigers
It's hard to dismiss Bama from the national title picture just yet, but for projection's sake, obviously we'll assume they won't rise to the championship game.
When Johnny Manziel shocked the Tide in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, hopes of a repeat all but evaporated. In a potential Sugar Bowl showdown with Clemson, Nick Saban's team would have an extremely difficult time dealing with the high-octane Tiger offense.
The receiver duo of DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins can stretch the field as well as any in the country, and stellar QB Tajh Boyd is quietly one of the best in the nation at his position.
What would make life really difficult for Clemson is that the Tigers only rank 75th against the run (h/t NCAA), which would be a horrible matchup opposite Tide RBs Eddie Lacy and phenomenal freshman T.J. Yeldon.
As many points as Clemson has been able to put on the board in a hurry, Boyd and his weapons haven't faced anything like the Tide defense, although the unit has shown some vulnerability as of late.
Still, I'd say the SEC reigns superior. 'Bama QB AJ McCarron makes hardly any mistakes, and the running game and size of the Tide would be too much for the Tigers to prevent them from rolling.
Prediction: Alabama 34, Clemson 24