Sport 3 reasons Alabama failed to repeat as national champions

15:05  10 january  2017
15:05  10 january  2017 Source:   Sporting News

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The top reason Alabama can repeat as national champions has just as much to do with the men on the sidelines as the men on the field. Sure, choosing to execute a brilliant onside kick that helped swing the momentum in the national championship game further proves Saban’s coaching acumen. However, recruiting top five classes year after year is one of the major reasons Alabama is a perennial contender.

It was there for the taking. Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts had given the Crimson Tide a 31-28 lead over Clemson with just over two minutes remaining in Monday's College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

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The Alabama offense turned things over to the nation's best defense, but Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson marched the Tigers downfield and his 2-yard touchdown pass toHunter Renfrow with a second remaining gave Clemson a 35-31 victory and its first national championship since 1981.

The Tigers (14-1) scored 21 points in the fourth quarter against an Alabama defense that had allowed just 32 fourth-quarter points all season.

So, how did Alabama (14-1) lose a game it led at halftime for the first time in 24 games? There are three key reasons.

Alabama's Bo Scarbrough is looked at after being hurt during the second half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Clemson Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) © (AP Photo/David J. Phillip Alabama's Bo Scarbrough is looked at after being hurt during the second half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Clemson Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Bo Scarbrough's injury

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Alabama is the top seed in the College Football Playoff and there's little reason to believe the Crimson Tide won't claim another national title. Despite what some pundits looking to drive up ratings would have you believe, the thinking around the country is that this is Alabama ’s national championship to lose. No disrespect to the other teams in the field, but the Crimson Tide have won 25 straight games, including 13 consecutive this season.

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The Crimson Tide offense just wasn't the same without their bruising sophomore running back, who left early in the third quarter with a leg injury. Scarbrough ran the ball 12 times for 76 yards in the first half, scoring both Crimson Tide touchdowns to give them a 14-7 halftime lead. Scarbrough had just four carries in the second half and finished with 93 yards. The Clemson defense had no answers for the 6-2, 230-pound Scarbrough prior to his injury.

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Alabama's Jalen Hurts scrambles during the second half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Clemson Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) © (AP Photo/John Bazemore Alabama's Jalen Hurts scrambles during the second half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Clemson Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Lack of sustained drives

Hurts was trying to become the first true freshman since 1985 to lead his team to a national championship. But Hurts, despite his go-ahead 30-yard touchdown run with 2:07 remaining, turned in an underwhelming performance. He was 13 of 31 for 131 yards and a touchdown. The Tide were just 2 of 15 on third down and couldn't stay on the field to give their defense a break. Each of Alabama's four touchdowns were of the big-play variety— Scarbrough's runs of 25 and 37 yards, a 68-yard pass to tight end O.J. Howard and the late Hurts score. Before the Hurts touchdown run, Alabama had gained just 27 yards on 10 plays in the fourth quarter with three punts.

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Here are five reasons that Alabama will win the National Championship . Nick Saban has once again proved his might in the college football world by leading his Crimson Tide team back to the playoffs, where they will face the Washington Huskies in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl before facing either Clemson or Ohio State. With a defense like that, you have to like Alabama ’s chances to repeat as National Champions .

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Nick Saban © (Getty Images) Nick Saban

Penalties

While the Alabama defense wore down late because Clemson ran 99 offensive plays, the Tide were uncharacteristic of a Nick Saban-coached team with nine penalties for 82 yards. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on sophomore defensive tackle Da'Ron Payne helped put Clemson in position to take its first lead with under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. A pass interference penalty helped moved the ball from the Alabama 9 to the 2-yard line in the final seconds to put Clemson in a better position for the game-winning score.

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Alabama to hire Arizona's Byrne for AD position .
Byrne, who left for Arizona in 2010, was formerly the AD at Mississippi State.The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because Alabama had not confirmed the move, but said Arizona had already begun its search for a new athletics director in anticipation of Byrne’s departure.

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