Championship Preview Saturday 6-Pack: Alabama-Clemson




Punting: 44.4 yards per attempt (No. 16 nationally)

Punt Returns: 12.7 yards per attempt, five touchdowns (No. 20 nationally)

Kick Returns: 18.97 yards per attempt (No. 109 nationally)

Field Goals: 22-of-31, 71 percent (No. 78 nationally)

Monday’s championship bout could come down to field position, and Alabama’s well-equipped to win such a struggle. Punter J.K. Scott shook off an inconsistent start to the season to rank among the nation’s best by season’s end.

Speaking of nation’s best, Cyrus Jones is arguably the nation’s most dangerous punt returner, running four back for touchdowns on the season and averaging close to 13 yards per attempt. He drove the final nail into Michigan State’s coffin in the Cotton Bowl with this devastating run-back.

Field-goal kicking improved dramatically, with Adam Griffith missing half of his eight shanks through the Tide’s first two games. While Alabama doesn’t want this to come down to a kick, Griffith’s been steady in the back-half of the season.


Punting: 39.05 yards per attempt (No. 98 nationally)

Punt Returns: 1.64 yards per attempt (No. 127 nationally)

Kick Returns: 21.54 yards per attempt (No. 51 nationally)

Field Goals: 26-of-30, 86.7 percent (No. 8 nationally)

Special teams played a big part in Clemson’s Orange Bowl romp. Andy Teasdall, who misfired on an audible fake in the ACC Championship Game, turned the tide in the Tigers’ favor early with a 31-yard pass completion to Christian Wilkins.

Clemson’s statistical rankings on special teams are staggeringly low, especially the limited number of punt returns the Tigers have had this season. Alabama’s ability to pin opponents deep and set up that defense to feast looms as a potential difference-maker.

On the flip-side, Greg Huegel’s consistency as Clemson’s placekicker gives the Tigers likely points whenever they get into Alabama territory.