8 fun facts and figures surrounding Clemson-Alabama battle
A Clemson victory in the Jan. 11 national title game would make the Tigers the first 15-win FBS team in the history of college football. A 'Bama win would mean head coach Nick Saban edges that much closer to surpassing the legacy of Crimson Tide coaching legend Paul "Bear" Bryant. So the stakes are high for both programs -- and that's not all they have in common.
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Monday night’s meeting won’t be the first rodeo for Alabama or Clemson. Both teams enter the matchup with at least one national championship under their belts, and both lead their respective conferences in league titles. Alabama, which has earned 15 national championships, has won the SEC 25 times, while the Tigers are tied with Florida State with 15 league titles and finished No. 1 in all the land in 1981.
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The game will feature two of the top three Heisman vote-getters when Alabama RB Derrick Henry, the trophy winner, faces off against Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, who placed third in the voting. On the season, Henry -- a 6-foot-3, 242-pound All-American junior -- has rushed for an FBS-best 2,061 yards and 25 TDs. Watson -- a sophomore All-American -- has thrown for an ACC-best 3,699 yards and 31 TDs, while rushing for 1,032 yards, third among FBS quarterbacks.
Speaking of Heisman …
The first meeting between Clemson and Alabama took place in 1900 and was won 35-0 by the Tigers and coach John Heisman -- the same Heisman for whom the trophy is named. Heisman, a College Football Hall of Famer, coached the Tigers from 1900-03 and went 19-3-2 during his tenure.
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Alabama-Clemson: A series of streaks
The Tide and Tigers have played one another 15 times. The first three were all Clemson, the Tigers going 3-0 and winning by a combined score of 78-0 between 1900 and 1905. Alabama would return the favor with back-to-back shutouts and have never looked back. The Tide would win 74-7 in 1931 to even the all-time series at 3-3, then blank the Tigers four straight times, part of a 12-game winning streak over Clemson which is still active. Yup ... Alabama is 12-0 over Clemson over the last 110 years. The teams have played only once since 1975, however, the Tide rolling to an easy 34-10 win.
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Top Clemson coaches are Alabama-educated
Tiger fans might want to send a thank-you card or two to Alabama because that university is responsible for fostering the top three winningest coaches in Clemson history. Frank Howard, the Tigers' all-time wins leader (165-118-12), played football at Alabama and graduated in 1931. Danny Ford (96-29-4), who coached the Tigers to their only national championship in 1981, was an All-SEC offensive lineman playing for Bear Bryant in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Dabo Swinney (75-26), ranks third on Clemson’s win list but graduated from Alabama in 1993 -- after winning a national championship in 1992. Overall, Clemson has employed a total of five coaches who were Alabama alums and have accounted for more than 52 percent of the program’s 703 wins.
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One for the century
In 1969 -- celebrated as the 100th year of college football -- legendary coach Bear Bryant picked up his 100th win at Alabama as his Tide rolled past Clemson, 38-13. The game ball was presented to Bryant by team captain Danny Ford, who would go on to coach the Tigers to their only national championship in 1981.
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Bear comes to Clemson
College Football Hall of Famer Bryant made his first trip to Clemson in 1967 and created a stir as his Crimson Tide -- who earlier that week fell out of the AP poll, then only a top-10 poll -- faced off against the Tigers in front of a sellout crowd of more than 49,000. Those fans witnessed an exciting contest as Alabama QB Ken Stabler and the Tide squeezed past the Tigers, 13-10. Stabler connected on 9 of his 15 attempts for 135 yards, while Clemson was led by ACC Player of the Year Buddy Gore, who rushed 23 times for 73 yards.
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What happens when No. 1 meets No. 2
When No. 1 Clemson takes on No. 2 Alabama it will mark the 50th time the top two teams in the AP Poll have collided. The No. 1s hold a 28-19-2 lifetime record over the No. 2s. However, the last 12 meetings have been split, 6-6.