Clemson and Alabama faced off for the national title last season, and there's a good chance they play a rematch this year. It would be the fifth-straight season the two programs have met, with four of those matchups coming with a national championship on the line.
Most outlets have the Tigers ranked No. 1 in the preseason, with Alabama at No. 2. However, noted college football sage Phil Steele has it the other way around.
Steele's college football preview is out, and he put the Crimson Tide in the top spot. Appearing on "3 Man Front" on WJOX in Birmingham yesterday, he broke down why he did that.
Basically, Steele like's Alabama's defense better than the Tigers'.
“I’m gonna go with the overall defense,” Steele said, via 247Sports. “I know the defense didn’t look good in the last outing that Alabama was in. They got shredded for some 482 yards by Clemson, 471 yards by Oklahoma, and 454 yards by Georgia. But they have six returning starters. Last year’s secondary was very inexperienced. This year they’re more experienced. Clemson, meanwhile, defensively does lose four huge guys off that defensive line — all to the NFL and all early-round draft picks. They’re still going to have a good defense. They’re still going to have a good defensive line, but I think Alabama has a little better defense this year than Clemson.”
It would be fun to test Steele's reasoning out on the field in the College Football Playoff.
Both teams will be favored in every regular season game they play this year. Clemson's toughest two-game stretch is probably early on, with a home game against Texas A&M and a road trip to Syracuse in consecutive weeks in September.
Alabama's schedule is even more favorable. November is probably the toughest month, as it features road trips to Mississippi State and Auburn, with a home game against LSU and a cupcake vs. Western Carolina mixed in.
It wouldn't be surprising if both the Tigers and the Tide run the table again.