A nugget of interest, surfaced by ESPN around the start of the fourth quarter of Monday’s National Championship:
Alabama is 97-0 under Nick Saban when leading by double digits entering the 4th quarter.— ESPN (@espn) January 10, 2017
Will Clemson be the one? It's 24-14 after 3. pic.twitter.com/fpcvQdVbus
Maybe the most astonishing thing about this stat is that Alabama has now led 98 of its 138 games under Saban by 10 or more points after three quarters. That’s 71 percent of Alabama’s games since Saban got to Tuscaloosa for the 2007 season.
Maybe the next-most astonishing thing is that Bama hadn’t lost a single one of those games, despite being a team of fallible college football players who can’t always be perfect yet somehow managed to not blow that lead even once in 10 years.
Maybe the next-most astonishing thing is that Clemson figured out how to be the team to break that streak now of all times, with its season on the line in the biggest game of the year. No less than a national title was hanging in the balance.
Alabama is built to hold leads, which makes it even more surprising. The Tide have a dominant power running game, which averaged 6.5 yards per rush on Monday. The defense is the best in college football. It’s not coincidental that Saban’s teams don’t blow these types of leads. They’re built to demoralize you. Clemson didn’t let it happen.
To some degree, this streak being broken is fluky. Alabama led the National Championship for about 58 minutes but led by double digits for less than 10, and that just happened to include the end of the third quarter. Still, 97-0 was 97-0, and Clemson made sure it wasn’t any longer. Add it to a list of broken streaks.