Clemson face Alabama in Atlanta

01 January 2018 16:30:57 GMTPlus11

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta takes center stage on Monday for the Sugar Bowl as the defending National Champion Clemson Tigers take on the Alabama Crimson Tide.

It's the third consecutive year that the Tigers and the Crimson Tide have met in the College Football Playoff, although the last two meetings have been in the final where, somewhat curiously, the lower-ranked side has prevailed on each occasion - Alabama in 2015 and Clemson last year.

The Tigers are the top seed this season with the Crimson Tide claiming the fourth place in the semi-finals despite a less than stellar schedule and a loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

Clemson, on the other hand, played six ranked sides during the regular campaign and topped the lot, getting the better of Auburn, Louisville, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, South Carolina and Miami, along with an unranked Florida State, who had started the season at #3 in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25 Poll before falling precipitously.

Alabama are 2.80 to win the NCAAF title with Clemson 3.25 and the Oklahoma Sooners priced at 4.50.

Meanwhile, over in Pasadena the traditional Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Rose Bowl match-up is replaced by the Georgia Bulldogs meeting Oklahoma in the other semi-final.

Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield has been struggling with flu all week and is expected to play even if not at a full 100 per cent.

That may rob the Rose Bowl of fulfilling the potential of its most interesting match-up, Mayfield against the Georgia defense, but it still seems reasonable to expect a highly entertaining game.

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