The Tigers and Crimson Tide are set for their third national title matchup in the last four seasons
No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson will meet for the fourth straight time in the five-year history of the College Football Playoff on Monday when the Crimson Tide and Tigers face off at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, for the national championship.
Monday’s game, dubbed as Alabama-Clemson IV, marks the third time the schools will meet with the national title on the line. The Crimson Tide won the first matchup, beating the Tigers 45-40 in Glendale, Arizona, back in 2016 with Clemson returning the favor the following year with a thrilling, 35-31 victory in Tampa, Florida. So who will take the rubber game?
Here are 10 stats you need to know to get your ready for Monday's title tilt:
1,572: Rushing yards for Clemson’s Travis Etienne
Etienne enters Monday’s national championship fifth in the country in rushing and tied for the lead with 22 rushing touchdowns. The ACC Player of the Year ran for 109 yards on just 14 carries in the Tigers' dominating, 30-3 semifinal win in the Cotton Bowl over Notre Dame for his third straight 100-yard rushing effort. The sophomore is averaging a gaudy 8.3 yards per carry but didn't have much success in last season's playoff loss to Alabama. The Crimson Tide held Etienne to just 22 yards on four carries in their 24-6 semifinal victory in the Sugar Bowl.
14: Number of wins Alabama has against Clemson
Alabama and Clemson first met in 1900, and the Tigers began the series with three straight wins. The Crimson Tide then rattled off 13 straight victories before Clemson beat them in the national championship game two years ago. Alabama still holds a commanding 14-4 lead in the series.
2: Number of true freshman quarterbacks to win a national championship.
On Jan. 1, 1986, Oklahoma freshman quarterback Jamelle Holieway became the first true freshman quarterback to win a national championship when he helped lead the Sooners to a 25-10 win over Penn State in the Orange Bowl. Last year, Alabama then-freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa became the second to share the distinction by orchestrating the comeback and eventual overtime win over Georgia. Clemson's Trevor Lawrence has a chance to join this exclusive club, provided he can beat Tagovailoa's Crimson Tide.
65.3: Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence's completion percentage
With his 27 completions (on 39 attempts) for 327 yards and three touchdowns against Notre Dame in last week's semifinal, the Tigers' freshman gunslinger upped his completion percentage on the year to 65.3. Lawrence was named Clemson’s starter on Sept. 24 and has thrown for 2,933 yards and 27 touchdowns against four interceptions.
146: Wins by Nick Saban at Alabama
Since taking over at Alabama in 2007, Saban has lost just 20 games in 12 seasons. He boasts a .880 winning percentage with the Crimson Tide, has won 14 games in a season four different times (including this one) and has posted two or fewer losses in each of the past nine seasons.
.793: Dabo Swinney's winning percentage
With his 115 wins at Clemson, Swinney ranks second in all-time wins by Clemson coaches. Frank Howard owns a record 165 wins at the school. Swinney has gone 115-30 in 11 seasons, and in the 2016 season, he led Clemson to its first national championship since Danny Ford coached the Tigers to a 12-0 season and a 22-15 national championship win over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Under Swinney, Clemson has appeared in the College Football Playoffs in four of its five years.
9: Number of points that have decided Alabama-Clemson national championship games
National title games between the Crimson Tide and the Tigers have been nail-biting affairs, as the previous two such meetings were decided by a total of nine points. In the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship, Alabama used a 24-point fourth quarter to edge Clemson 45-40. A year later, the Tigers shocked the Tide with a two-yard TD pass from Deshaun Watson to Hunter Renfrow with just one second remaining to earn a 35-31 win and Clemson's second national title (1981).
183.8: Passing yards per game allowed by Clemson's defense
The Tigers have seen their share of talented quarterbacks this season, most recently Notre Dame's Ian Book, but Monday's task will be the most difficult yet as Clemson has to go up against Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa. The Heisman Trophy runner-up has thrown for 3,671 yards and 41 touchdowns this year, and he is averaging 262.2 passing yards per game. As good as the Tigers' defense has been, they have given up some big numbers through the air, most notably to Texas A&M's Kellen Mond (430 yards, 3 TDs) and South Carolina's Jake Bentley (510, 5). Book wasn't near as successful, however, as he completed just 50 percent of his attempts (17-for-34) for 160 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
0: Number of times undefeated teams have met in the College Football Playoff National Championship
Monday’s meeting will be the first in the playoff era between unbeaten teams. Alabama and Clemson have won a combined 28 games. Clemson’s last loss occurred on Jan. 1, 2018, at the hand of Alabama, while the Crimson Tide's last loss was on Nov. 25, 2018, in the Iron Bowl against Auburn.
$179: Starting price for tickets
Santa Clara isn’t exactly a hop, skip and a jump from Alabama or South Carolina, and ticket sales appear to show as much. TicketIQ.com numbers show a significant dip in ticket prices as of Jan. 2. Prices for a ticket to Monday’s title game has a get-in price of $179, making it, the website said, the "cheapest title game this decade."
— Written by Elton Hayes, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A sports reporter for The Meridian Star, Hayes also has been an invited guest on "The Paul Finebaum Show." Follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.