CFT Previews & Predictions: Clemson-Alabama Tale of the Tape

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WHO
No. 2 Clemson (14-0) vs. No. 1 Alabama (14-0)

WHAT
The College Football Playoff National Championship Game, Presented by AT&T

WHEN
8:00 p.m. ET (8:17 p.m. ET kickoff)

WHERE
Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California

HEAD COACHES
Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (115-30 in 11 seasons with the Tigers; one national championship)
Alabama’s Nick Saban (142-20 in 12 seasons with the Crimson Tide, 233-62-1 overall; six national championships)

STATISTICAL LEADERS
Clemson
Passing: Trevor Lawrence, 239-365 (65.5%), 2,933 yards, 27 touchdowns, four interceptions
Rushing: Travis Etienne, 1,583 yards, 22 touchdowns
Receiving: Tee Higgins, 56 receptions, 855 yards, 11 touchdowns
Punt returns: Amari Rodgers, 7.7 yards per on 39 returns, one touchdown
Kick returns: Derion Kendrick, 23 yards per on 13 returns
Punting: Will Spiers, 39.5 yards per, 19 of 61 inside the 20
Kicking: Greg Huegel, 10-15 field goals, long of 49; 71-72 extra points
Tackles: Isaiah Simmons, 88
Tackles for loss: Clelin Ferrell, 18
Sacks: Ferrell, 11½
QB Hits: Dexter Lawrence, 15
Interceptions: Tanner Muse, A.J. Terrell, two
Passes breakups: Simmons, Terrell, K’Von Wallace, seven

Alabama
Passing: Tua Tagovailoa, 223-321 (69.5%), 3,671 yards, 41 touchdowns, four interceptions
Rushing: Damien Harris, 819 yards; Josh Jacobs, 11 touchdowns
Receiving: Jerry Jeudy, 63 receptions, 1,176 yards, 13 touchdowns
Punt returns: Jaylen Waddle, 15.1 per on 15 returns, one touchdown
Kick returns: Jacobs, 30.6 per on 13 returns, one touchdown
Punting: Mike Bernier, 37 yards per, four of 23 inside the 20
Kicking: Joseph Bulovas, 13-17 field goals, long of 49; 74-79 extra points
Tackles: Dylan Moses, 82
Tackles for loss: Quinnen Williams, 18
Sacks: Isaiah Buggs, 9½
QB Hits: Williams, Christian Miller, 12
Interceptions: Saivion Smith, three
Passes breakups: Anfernee Jennings, Shyheim Carter, 10

STATISTICAL MATCHUPS
Alabama’s 34th-ranked rush offense (202 ypg) vs. Clemson’s 2nd-ranked run defense (92.6 ypg)
Clemson’s 10th-ranked rush offense (256.3 ypg) vs. Alabama’s 19th-ranked run defense (120.3 ypg)
Alabama’s 6th-ranked pass offense (325.6 ypg) vs. Clemson’s 16th-ranked pass defense (182.1 ypg)
Clemson’s 24th-ranked pass offense (274.1 ypg) vs. Alabama’s 22nd-ranked pass defense (187.6 ypg)
Alabama’s 2nd-ranked scoring offense (47.7 ppg) vs. Clemson’s top-ranked scoring defense (12.9 ppg)
Clemson’s 4th-ranked scoring offense (44.3 ppg) vs. Alabama’s 5th-ranked scoring defense (16.1 ppg)

COMMON OPPONENTS
Texas A&M
Clemson won 28-26 Sept. 8 in College Station, Alabama won 45-23 Sept. 22 in Tuscaloosa.

Louisville
Clemson won 77-16 Nov. 3 in Clemson, Alabama won 51-14 Sept. 1 on a neutral field.

LOSSES
None for either team as this will mark the first time in the five-year history of the College Football Playoff that two undefeated teams will be playing in the national championship game.

PORTFOLIO
Wins vs. bowl teams: Clemson 11, Alabama 9
Wins vs. current CFP Top 25 teams: Clemson 3, Alabama 5
Wins in true road games: Clemson 5, Alabama 4
Wins by 10-plus points: Clemson 12, UA 13

THE BOVADA.LV LINE
Clemson, +5 (opened +6)
Over/under, 61

THE PREDICTIONS
Zach Barnett
Here’s a stat for you: in his two title bouts with Clemson, Deshaun Watson was a combined 66-of-103 for 825 yards with seven touchdowns against one interception, leading his Tigers to 40 and 35 points. In eight quarters against the most fearsome defense this side of the ’85 Bears, Watson and company averaged around 100 yards, a touchdown and field goal. If Clemson is to do the unthinkable for the second time in three years, true freshman Trevor Lawrence will have to put up similar numbers and a similar volume, keeping Alabama’s ultra-efficient offense off the field. I think they will.
Clemson 38, Alabama 34

Bryan Fisher
I’ve seen both the Tigers and the Crimson Tide win national titles before and the fourth edition of their heavyweight fight might just be the best yet. It’s got great quarterbacks, some terrific receivers and running backs, plus a host of defenders that will be playing on Sundays. Alabama will get pushed plenty by Dabo Swinney‘s side but the SEC champs have played at another gear, for the most part, this season and will wind up with Nick Saban lifting yet another trophy in a thriller out West.
Alabama 31, Clemson 27

Kevin McGuire
A season that was billed as a season-long exhibition before Alabama and Clemson square off in the national championship has delivered once again. Seeing Tua Tagovailoa appear to be just fine last week against Oklahoma was an encouraging sign for the Tide as they prepare to face the stiffest defensive challenge they have seen this season in the Tigers. The last two championship bouts between these two were instant classics, and we could very well have a third on our hands. This game has the look of a defensive battle, but the quarterback play is just too good to be stopped. In the end, Tagovailoa leads Alabama to one more critical touchdown drive than Trevor Lawrence and Alabama wins yet another championship.
Alabama 36, Clemson 31

John Taylor
I’ve picked against Alabama each of the past two title games — Georgia following the 2017 regular season, Clemson the year before — and the Crimson Tide split those meetings.  This year, Nick Saban has arguably his best squad overall during his dozen seasons in Tuscaloosa, with an offense that’s head and shoulders in the passing game above anything the future College Football Hall of Famer has ever fielded.  All of the ingredients are there for back-to-back national titles for Saban… for Saban to pass the legendary Bear Bryant for most career championships… for Saban to cement his legacy as the GOAT at this level… and yet I’m going with Dabo Swinney — with a heaping helping of Trevor Lawrence, a quarterback the likes of which ‘Bama hasn’t faced this season — to spoil yet another Tide coronation and pick up his second national championship at the expense of his nemesis the past four years.
Clemson 34, Alabama 31

Indiana suspends TE Peyton Hendershot following domestic violence incident

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When it came to a member of the Indiana Hoosiers football program, this was an expected next step.

Late Saturday night, Peyton Hendershot was arrested on multiple charges in connection to an alleged domestic violence incident.  The tight end is facing one count each of residential entry, domestic battery, criminal mischief and criminal conversion.  The residential entry charge is a felony; the other three are misdemeanors.

Sunday, the Indiana Hoosiers football program issued the following statement:

Indiana University Athletics is aware of the arrest of redshirt sophomore Peyton Hendershot. IU Athletics will continue to gather facts, cooperate with and monitor the legal and administrative processes, and take further action as the evolving situation warrants.

A day later, the Indiana Hoosiers football program issued an updated statement in which it was confirmed that Hendershot has been indefinitely suspended.

Indiana University Head Football Coach Tom Allen has suspended redshirt sophomore Peyton Hendershot immediately and indefinitely from all team activities. He will continue to evaluate the situation pending further developments.

It should be noted that Hendershot was expected to miss spring practice because of injury issues prior to his off-field situation.

Hendershot was a three-star member of the Class of 2017 for Indiana Hoosiers football.  An injury his true freshman season allowed the Indiana native to take a redshirt.  In 2018, Hendershot started 10 games, catching 15 passes for 163 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

This past season, Hendershot set a school record for tight ends by catching 52 passes for 622 yards.  After starting all 13 games, Hendershot was named third-team All-Big Ten.

Ohio State, Ryan Day agree to three-year contract extension

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Not surprisingly, it will continue to pay to be the Ohio State football head coach.

Tuesday morning, OSU announced it has agreed to a three-year extension for Ryan Day.  The coach is now signed through the 2026 season.

It should be noted that the agreement is pending approval by the Ohio State University Board of Trustees.

According to the school, Day will make $5.375 million from Feb. 1, 2020 through Jan. 31, 2021. Additionally, OSU will make an employer contribution of $1 million to his retirement continuation plan on Dec. 31, 2020.  Day will then make $6.5 million in 2021 and $7.6 million in 2022.

“Increases to his compensation package after Feb. 1, 2023 will be determined by the director of athletics and approved by the Board of Trustees,” the school wrote.

In 2019, Day’s $4.5 million in guaranteed compensation was seventh in the Big Ten and 22nd nationally.

“Ryan Day’s management of this football program, from mentoring and leading our student-athletes in their academic pursuits and off-field endeavors to coaching them on the playing field, has been exceptional,” Senior Vice President and Wolfe Foundation Endowed Athletics Director Gene Smith said. “I am appreciative of his work. And I want to thank President Michael V. Drake for his leadership and the Board of Trustees for its work with this extension.”

In his first full season as the Ohio State football head coach, Day guided the Buckeyes to a 13-1 record.  After winning the Big Ten title, Day became the first OSU coach in four decades to be named as the Big Ten Coach of the Year.  Ohio State football also returned to the playoffs for the third time in six seasons.

Day is actually 16-1 as a head coach.  With Urban Meyer suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season, the Buckeyes went 3-0 with Day as the acting head coach.

Spring football games schedule: Complete dates, times, TV options

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College football spring games? Certainly. Ready to watch? Probably (thanks to this spring football games schedule).

With the 2019 season fading into the rearview mirror, our attention has now turned to the 2020 campaign that, for now, seems far out on the horizon.  One of the first big steps in getting to next season, of course, is spring practice.  In most cases, those 15 spring practice sessions will culminate in some semblance of a spring game.

Below is a list of those college football spring games, complete with dates, times (Eastern) and, when appropriate, the television station on which they will be broadcast,

As of the initial posting, not all of the college football spring games and their dates have been released.  Some details, including times, are still to be determined as well.

This post will be updated as necessary throughout the next two months.

(Writer’s note: If any schools or fans of schools notice we’re missing already-available information, please shoot me the particulars at John.Taylor AT nbcuni.com)

March games

MARCH 5

Coastal Carolina, (other details to be determined)

MARCH 19

Arkansas State, 7:00 p.m.

MARCH 21

Charlotte, (other details to be determined)
San Diego State, 2:00 p.m.

MARCH 28

Western Michigan, (other details to be determined)
Tulane, 11:00 a.m.
San Jose State, 5:00 p.m.
Arizona State, 10:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Arizona)

April games

APRIL 3

Rice, (other details to be determined)
Buffalo, 3:00 p.m.
FIU, 6:30 p.m.
Georgia Southern, 7:30 p.m.
Georgia State, 7:30 p.m.
Vanderbilt, 8:00 p.m.

APRIL 4

Temple, (other details to be determined)
Troy, (other details to be determined)
Minnesota, noon
North Carolina State, 12:30 p.m.
Tulsa, 12:30 p.m.
South Carolina, 1:00 p.m. (SEC Network+)
UAB, 1:00 p.m.
Purdue, 2:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Clemson, 2:30 p.m.
UCF, 2:30 p.m.
Wake Forest, 3:00 p.m.
Louisiana-Monroe, 7:00 p.m.
Arizona, 8:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Arizona)

APRIL 9

Louisiana, (other details to be determined)

APRIL 10

Georgia Tech, (other details to be determined)
Cincinnati, 6:00
Texas Tech, 7:00 p.m.

APRIL 11

Cal, (other details to be determined)
Pitt, (ACC Network) (time to be determined)
Kentucky, noon (SEC Network+)
Ohio State, noon (Big Ten Network)
Mississippi State, 12:30 p.m.
Kent State, 1:00 p.m.
Utah, 1:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Mountain)
Auburn, 2:00 p.m.
Missouri, 2:00 p.m.
Eastern Michigan, 3:00 p.m.
USC, 3:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Los Angeles)
Stanford, 4:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Bay Area)
Boise State, 5:30 p.m.

APRIL 17

Army, (other details to be determined)
Memphis, (other details to be determined)
Indiana, 7:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

APRIL 18

Ball State, (other details to be determined)
Baylor, (other details to be determined)
Florida, (other details to be determined)
Florida Atlantic, (other details to be determined)
Georgia, (other details to be determined)
Kansas, (other details to be determined)
Louisiana Tech, (other details to be determined)
LSU, (other details to be determined)
Oklahoma, (other details to be determined)
Texas A&M, (other details to be determined)
UCLA, (other details to be determined)
USF, (other details to be determined)
UTSA, (other details to be determined)
Akron, noon
Bowling Green, noon
Michigan, noon
SMU, noon
Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network)
West Virginia, 1:00 p.m.
Miami of Ohio, 1:30 p.m.
Penn State, 1:30 p.m. (FS1)
Alabama, 2:00 p.m.
Middle Tennessee State, 2:00 p.m.
Nebraska, 2:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
North Carolina, 3:00 p.m. (ACC Network)
Old Dominion, 3:00 p.m.
Oregon State, 3:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Oregon)
Western Kentucky, 3:00 pm.
Virginia Tech, 3:30 p.m.
Michigan State, 4 p.m.
Tennessee, 4:00 p.m.
Florida State, 5:00 p.m.
Oregon, 5:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Oregon)
Ole Miss, 7:30 p.m.

APRIL 25

Arkansas, (other details to be determined)
Nevada, (other details to be determined)
Texas, (other details to be determined)
UMass, (other details to be determined)
Southern Miss, 1:00 p.m.
Marshall, 2:00 p.m.
Colorado, 3:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Mountain)
Washington State, 3:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Washington)
Rutgers, 4:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Washington, 6:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Washington)

Minnesota hires ex-Michigan State DBs coach Paul Haynes as CBs coach

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In filling a hole on his Minnesota football coaching staff, P.J. Fleck turned to an assistant with recent Big Ten experience.  And head-coaching experience on top of that for good measure.

The Minnesota football program announced Monday the hiring of Paul Haynes.  Specifically, Haynes will serve as the Golden Gophers’ cornerbacks coach.

Haynes will replace Rod Chance, who left the Minnesota football program earlier this month to take the job as cornerbacks coach at Oregon.

The past two seasons, Haynes was the defensive backs coach at Michigan State in his second stint with the B1G school.  For the five years prior to that, the 51-year-old Ohio native was the head coach at Kent State.

In those five seasons, the Golden Flashes compiled a record of 14-45 overall and 9-30 in MAC play.  In November of 2017, Haynes was officially relieved of his duties.

In 2012, Haynes was the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Arkansas.  From 2005-11, Haynes was on the staff at Ohio State.  After serving as defensive backs coach his first six seasons, Haynes was the Buckeyes’ co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach in 2011.

Haynes’ first stint at MSU came in 2003-04 as defensive backs coach.  The year prior to that, he served in the same job at Louisville.

New Year’s Day, Minnesota football capped off a historic season with an Outback Bowl upset of Auburn.  The 11 wins were the program’s most since they won 13 in 1904.  Minnesota’s only other seasons with 10 or more wins came in 1900, 1903, 1905 and 2003.

The hiring of Haynes completes a reshuffling of Fleck’s coaching staff.