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Alabama remains the team to beat in college football

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SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports' Paul Myerberg and Nancy Armour break down Alabama's victory over Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, the third consecutive College Football Playoff matchup between the two programs.

NEW ORLEANS — Darned right this was personal. For a year, Alabama has been reminded of how Clemson snatched a national title from its hands at the last second, establishing the Tigers as a legitimate threat to the Crimson Tide’s dynasty. For a month, Alabama has had its worthiness questioned, a level of disrespect that once would have been unthinkable.

The Crimson Tide quietly seethed, taking names and numbers and filing them away. And on Monday night, Nick Saban and his ferocious defense unleashed the full force of that pent-up rage, making Clemson look like pretenders in the 24-6 win.

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) celebrates

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) celebrates with backup QB Tua Tagovailoa.
GREG M. COOPER, USA TODAY SPORTS

SUGAR BOWL: Alabama suffocates Clemson in dominant PLayoff victory

MORE: Alabama big man Da’Ron Payne shows off his hands with INT and TD

ROSE BOWL: Georgia survives Oklahoma in classic, back-and-forth clash

The Alabama defense harassed Kelly Bryant from the opening play — don’t be surprised if he’s still flinching in June — and essentially ended the game with five minutes left in the third quarter, picking him off on back-to-back plays and turning the miscues into 14 points.

Adding insult to injury, Tide nose guard Da’Ron Payne, who conservatively is listed at 308, scored the first of those touchdowns seven plays after picking off Bryant. Linebacker Mack Wilson returned the other interception 18 yards for the score.

“We’ve heard it for a year now,” running back Damien Harris said. “It showed in the way we played tonight how personally we took it. We wanted to take our respect back.”

Now Alabama, the team some suggested was in the playoff more on reputation than résumé, will play Georgia for the national title next week in Atlanta.

In the four years of the College Football Playoff, the Crimson Tide have made the title game all but once. For the sixth time in Saban’s 11 years, Alabama is playing for the national championship.

The dynasty is alive and well.

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Former NBA star Kobe Bryant, 4 others, including daughter killed in Southern California helicopter crash.

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Kobe Bryant, the retired Los Angeles Lakers great, was killed Sunday in a helicopter crash in Southern California, according to reports. He was 41. Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore, known as GiGi, was among the victims.

The former Los Angeles Lakers star’s death as well as his daughter’s was initially reported by TMZ and confirmed by several outlets, including ESPN. The crash occurred around 10 a.m. local time in foggy conditions above Calabasas, about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The crash ignited a brush fire, making it difficult for firefighters and emergency personnel to get to the crash site.

Bryant’s wife Vanessa was not on board, according to reports. The couple have four daughters, including an infant.

Bryant, an 18-time All-Star, won five NBA championships during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant retired as the third-leading score in NBA history in 2016.

Nicknamed “The Black Mamba,” Bryant is generally regarded as one of the best players in league history because of his all-around game.

Bryant, whose #8 and #24 jersey numbers were both retired by the Lakers, lead the league in scoring twice, won the Most Valuable Player award in 2008 and was selected to the NBA’s All-Defensive team 12 times.

All five people aboard the chopper were killed. No other information about the victims’ identities was immediately available

.

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