9th: 2017 Sugar Bowl: Alabama 24, Clemson 6
Following Clemson’s second national championship in 2016, it was believed that Clemson would likely take a small step back. Star quarterback Deshaun Watson was going pro, along with Mike Williams, Wayne Gallman and Jordan Leggett.
As the Tigers began their 2017 campaign with Kelly Bryant, the offense wasn’t as potent, but it wasn’t incapable either. The offense did just enough, and outside of a stumble at Syracuse when Bryant was injured and had to leave the game, Clemson just kept winning.
Following a strong showing against Miami in the ACC Championship Game, the Tigers were named the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoffs for the second time in three years.
Alabama, on the other hand, had dropped their rivalry game against Auburn and missed out on the SEC Championship Game. Many assumed this meant the Crimson Tide would be out of the playoffs. Instead, they got the No. 4 seed and a matchup with Clemson for the third year in a row.
While the 2020 Sugar Bowl was Clemson’s biggest playoff loss concerning points, this one might have been even harder to watch because the Tiger offense couldn’t get anything going that night at all. Bryant was 18 for 34 and two interceptions. The only Tiger to score was kicker Alex Spence.