Poise helps Jalen Hurts lead Alabama to title game

Alabama has a stable of talented running backs, but Scarbrough was the cheat code - the seemingly impossible athletic specimen who kept getting better and better as the games mattered most.

When the going got tough, Sarkisian dialed up what looked to be a winning drive with the help from his true freshman quarterback.

Shiloh Carder: Four last names: Wilkins, Watkins, Ferrell and Lawrence. All right, if I was an National Football League team, I'd be very interested if I needed a quarterback to look at this guy. Last week, Alabama's oft-criticized secondary did a good job of limiting Washington receiver John Ross to just 28 receiving yards. "There hasn't been many times this year when he actually gets a little rattled, and I think that's the thing that's been very helpful to his consistency as a player regardless of where we've played or what the stage has been".

Clemson's victory will be remember as one of the sport's greatest, but I thought Swinney played with fire as his team took its time with less than a minute left when they weren't even in field-goal range - and they had a shaky kicker, to boot.

420: Passing yards by Clemson's Deshaun Watson. When he is cooking, the Tigers are almost impossible to stop. I thought last year he was the best player in the country for putting the Tigers in the title game - and this year the best for getting them back. Watkins is a terror on the defensive line, demanding constant double teams and clogging up running lanes like rubbernecking drivers on the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles.

Clemson had an incredible 33 more offensive snaps than Alabama and had nearly a 91/2-minute edge in time of possession. It just clicked. I think we could have executed better in the game. He was a key player in the Peach Bowl, forcing a fumble and notching a sack after being relatively quiet earlier this year.

And what about Clemson's offense? He played Jalen Hurts on their scout team.

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He'd probably have been roasted if his place-kicker had missed a game-tying field goal, but he made the right calls - which is all that matters.

That's where O.J. Howard comes in. But when asked about the performance, Hurts quickly dismissed any concerns.

And finally, ArDarius Stewart needs to make a big play, whether it is receiving or returning kicks.

During the Playoffs the past few years, Saxon has worked on a series of guest pieces for Covers.com, point-counterpoint debates with opposing bloggers on why Alabama should cover the spread for a given game.

Daniel Tran: Bo Scarbrough had a coming out party against Washington last week.

You'll read some and hear more about people questioning Nick Saban's decision to fire Lane Kiffin as the offensive coordinator and replace him with Steve Sarkisian.

A natural storyline leading into the game was how Hurts would handle a new voice calling the plays in the biggest game of his life.

  • Regina Holmes