Alabama stifles Clemson to reach title game

NEW ORLEANS (AP)– It’s an all-SEC showdown for the national championship.

Jalen Hurts threw two touchdown passes to help Alabama defeat Clemson 24-6 in the Sugar Bowl semifinal. Alabama will face Southeastern Conference rival Georgia for the national championship on Jan. 8 in Atlanta. The Crimson Tide will be seeking their fifth national title in nine years.

Clemson trailed Alabama 10-6 in the third quarter and had driven to the Crimson Tide 35-yard line before Alabama defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne intercepted a pass by Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant and returned it 21 yards. On the ensuing drive, Payne entered the game on offense and caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Hurts to put the Crimson Tide ahead 17-6 in the third quarter. On Clemson’s next offensive play, Alabama’s Mack Wilson intercepted a pass by Bryant and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown to give the Crimson Tide a 24-6 lead.

It was the third straight year the two teams met in the College Football Playoff. Alabama won the championship game against Clemson in 2015, and the Tigers bounced back to beat the Crimson Tide in the 2016 title game.