The Alabama Crimson Tide will play top-seeded Clemson on Jan. 1 in the Sugar Bowl. Here are four key questions the Crimson Tide must answer in the College Football Playoff semifinal:
1. Can Alabama contain Hunter Renfrow?
It hasn’t so far: In two national championship game showdowns, Clemson’s sneaky, slippery wide receiver has caught 17 passes for 180 yards and four touchdowns. Alabama will have to find a way to shut him down, especially in the red zone. He has proven himself against the Crimson Tide. Now the UA defense has something to prove against him.
2. Will the Crimson Tide get the running game going?
At times, Alabama’s ground game has looked dominant. At others, it has seemed to have been a forgotten part of the game plan. The Crimson Tide will need to make an effort to involve Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough and Josh Jacobs to keep Clemson honest and to set up the play-action passing game.
3. What difference will returning linebackers make?
This should be the healthiest Alabama team since the season opener against Florida State. Mack Wilson, Christian Miller and Terrell Lewis should be not only back in the lineup, but in good shape. Their contributions will be needed against the Tigers.
4. Is Jalen Hurts ready to step up?
Alabama’s quarterback directed what could have been a game-winning drive against Clemson last year in the national title game, only to have the Tigers come right back to win it. He’s shown improvement this season, but will need to have a peak performance against a very strong Clemson defense to make a difference.