Written by: Coleman Bahr – Staff Writer (@ColemanBahr)
It is weird when Alabama loses, but it gets even more peculiar when they blow a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter of the biggest game of the season. Under Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide were 97-0 entering the fourth quarter with a double-digit lead before last night, so what went wrong?
It all started with the absence of Bo Scarbrough. Scarbrough was the focal point of the offense early in the game, breaking off two big touchdown runs, and tallying 16 carries for 93 yards before he was forced out of the game due to injury. Once he left, the offense was stagnant. They punted three times, and their only score came off a trick play, followed up by a long run from Hurts.
The Alabama offense floundered when they needed to flourish, but this pedestrian performance is far from an anomaly. In today’s age of college football, you need a quarterback who can throw the ball down the field, which Jalen Hurts is not capable of at this point in his career. Alabama actually trusted a wide receiver more than their quarterback to throw the ball down the field. If you take away the 68-yard touchdown pass from Hurts to O.J Howard, Hurts would have finished 12/30 with 63 yards passing.
The last five games of the season, Hurts only averaged 149.6 passing yards a game. That includes games against Chattanooga, who plays in the FCS, and Auburn, who hasn’t been able to play defense the past five years.
However, it wasn’t entirely the offense’s fault. The Alabama defense failed to adjust their play calls to the game situation. Once Mike Williams got a wide-open fade route off a pick play, Clemson knew the refs were going to let them play. On the final play of the game, Clemson ran another pick play, and it destroyed Alabama’s man coverage, leaving Hunter Renfrow wide open for the game winning score.
Most of all, Clemson won because they kept the Alabama defense from scoring. While Clemson did turn the ball over twice, Alabama failed to capitalize, running six plays for negative seven yards on the two drives following the turnovers.
Congratulations Clemson, for doing something that no team has done to Nick Saban in his tenure at Alabama, on the biggest stage in college football.