Clemson primed for Alabama rematch after having Tide on its mind for a full year

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The telltale evidence in Clemson‘s locker room had been taken down by the time the media invaded Saturday night.

That would be proof the Tigers have not only been thinking about an Alabama rematch but perhaps obsessing about it.

“The Sports Illustrated front cover from last year, articles, things like that after Alabama won,” center Jay Guillermo said while describing the painful reminders of last January’s College Football Playoff National Championship loss posted in the locker room.

That’s all well and good. Motivational materials are nothing new. But Clemson didn’t waste any time in making its intentions clear for 2016. Those covers and articles began popping up in February, according to Guillermo, not knowing whether Clemson or Alabama would be back to this championship spot.

“We knew Day 1 where we wanted to be,” he added. “Even if we didn’t end up playing Alabama, it was back to the championship game.”

If there was any question whether Clemson was the biggest threat to Alabama’s run for a fifth title in eight years, you had your answer Saturday.

The 31-0 dismantling of Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal should be disturbing (to the Crimson Tide, for starters) for several reasons. Urban Meyer was shut out for the first time in his career. The Buckeyes were shut out for the first time in 23 years and 295 games.

A Clemson defensive line anchored by two teenage freshmen who barely shave combined for 10 tackles (six for loss), three sacks and three pass break ups.