NEW ORLEANS -- Clemson's goal all season was to "leave no doubt" after topping Alabama to win the national title last season. Instead, in the third episode of the trilogy Monday night in the Sugar Bowl national semifinal, it was the Crimson Tide who left no doubt. 

No. 4 Alabama dominated No. 1 Clemson in a 24-6 massacre that not only signaled that "Bama was back," but might be better than ever.

"They talked so much trash, but we just came in here and dominated the game," wide receiver Calvin Ridley said as confetti floated down from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. "We just wanted to come out here and dominate the game, and that's what we did, dominate ... we dominated Clemson. Dominated. Dominated."

If Ridley sounds repetitive, well, he was. Probably because it was a reflection of how the game played out. 

"It was a little personal for us after the way the game played out last year," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said.

That one fell in favor of the Tigers 35-31. This edition was Saban's style.

The Crimson Tide defense held a Tiger team that averaged 448.2 yards per game and 35.4 points per game to just 188 and six, respectively. The Tide defense held that offense to negative-seven yards in the first quarter.

Anfernee Jennings had the game of his life, notching five tackles, three for loss, one sack, lived in the backfield and hit Tigers quarterback Kelly Bryant on what ended up being a game-changing 22-yard interception by tackle Da'Ron Payne, setting up a touchdown from Hurts to ... Payne himself. Jennings got hurt and needed help moving around the postgame celebration from trainers, but didn't want to miss out on the festivities.

"Hell of a job by Anfernee," said fellow outside linebacker Christian Miller. "That's what he does. Big, strong, physical guy, but also has speed. He does everything we ask him to do, and is a great player."

It was more of the same on the offensive side of the ball. 

Saturday morning during Alabama's 45-minute media day session, Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Brian Daboll had a swagger about him. It was a friendly confidence that almost doubled as dismissiveness of No. 1 Clemson. 

He knew that Clemson's ultra-talented defensive front was no match for a well-rested, regenerated and revitalized Crimson Tide offensive line. He knew that the real Alabama was in the building. 

Not just Alabama, but old-school Alabama. The Alabama that suffocated opponents regardless of talent level, scheme or style. The Alabama that owned the line of scrimmage. The exact opposite of the Alabama that seemed lost in the month of November when it escaped the clutches of Mississippi State and lost at Auburn

"Once we got beat by Auburn, we were 'the worst offensive line in the nation,' yada, yada, yada, and all this crap," center Bradley Bozeman said. "We really wanted to make a statement and prove that we deserve to be here, and I think we did that tonight."

Alabama didn't have to get fancy offensively because it knew that it didn't have to. Sure, there was the one flea-flicker in the first half that fell incomplete. But that was the aberration. For the most part, the Crimson Tide lined up and punched the fast and physical Tiger defensive front from the moment toe met leather, and was met with very little resistance. 

"I thought personally we could break 'em when we first came in," Bozeman said. "That's what we planned on doing, and that's what we did."

In the end, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney put it as bluntly and succinctly as anybody possibly could. 

"We earned a butt-whipping tonight."

It was Alabama that left no doubt Monday night.  But the way these two teams are operating, it's only the latest episode in an ongoing saga of two college football powers who seem perfectly content throwing haymakers at each other during the holiday season. 

"I don't think this will be the last," Swinney said. "Everybody talks about the trilogy like someone's fixin' to die or something. We'll be back, and so will they."

If that happens, Clemson will remember how this one felt. The script was different, and now the roles are reversed. It's Clemson's turn to answer. 

Until next time.