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Tide Front Leads the Way

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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It was a classic effort from Alabama in New Orleans as the defensive front set the tone in a convincing 24-6 Sugar Bowl victory over Clemson.

Alabama's dynasty has been rooted in dominant defensive play at the line of scrimmage. Down the home stretch of the regular season, the Crimson Tide lost some of that edge, recording just two sacks and giving up five rushing touchdowns over the final three games. It was, instead, a classic effort from Alabama in New Orleans as the defensive front set the tone in a convincing 24-6 Sugar Bowl victory over Clemson.

The Crimson Tide recorded five sacks and held the Tigers to just 1.9 yards per carry. After giving up 75 points the last two years in championship game pairings with Clemson, Alabama kept the Tigers out of the endzone in Monday night's semifinal. In all, the Crimson Tide held Clemson to merely 188 offensive yards, the Tigers' lowest total since 2011. Alabama looked as good as ever defensively, winning, first and foremost, in the trenches.

Da'Ron Payne had a performance to remember, one he apparently dreamed about the night before. With the Crimson Tide clinging to a four-point lead, Payne had an all-time great sequence, intercepting a Kelly Bryant attempt, returning it 21 yards, then catching a critical touchdown pass seven plays later. As Alabama took command of the contest, Payne, defensively and offensively, was the game's unlikely catalyst.  

Against the defending national champions, the Crimson Tide flexed their muscle at the line of scrimmage. Alabama advances after a familiar showing, one where the defensive line and linebackers led the way.  

Up front, Alabama made a statement in making it back to the national championship game. The Crimson Tide, in vintage fashion, looked and played the part.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports