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INSIDE THE PLAYOFF: Clemson playing for history: 15-0

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Michigan State's offensive line expects a fight when it plays Alabama's talented defensive line on Thursday night in the Cotton Bowl.

So why not prepare by watching one of the greatest fights of all time?

Michigan State offensive line coach Mark Staten had his unit watch and score the 1971 Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier heavyweight title match dubbed the Fight of the Century.

Left tackle Jack Conklin said the message from Staten was: ''It's going to be a 15-round bout of two powerhouse teams taking blow-for-blow.''

Conklin said he didn't necessarily think of Michigan State as either Ali or Frazier, but if he had to choose, he'd want the Spartans to be Smokin' Joe - because he wins.

''There's a look in Frazier's eye where he just sees the fight leave Muhammad Ali,'' Conklin said.


Twin brothers will be heading to the national championship game.

Whether they'll be in Oklahoma or Clemson colors remains to be decided.

There'll be twins on both sidelines in the Orange Bowl game Thursday night, with Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight and tight end Connor Knight on one side, Clemson linebackers J.D. and Judah Davis on the other.

Neither set of twins knew about each other before they arrived at Tuesday's media day for the College Football Playoff semifinal matchup.

''Twin takeover,'' Connor Knight said.

The Knights had one of the neatest moments of Oklahoma's season when they connected on a 17-yard pass - Trevor threw it, Connor caught it - for a touchdown in the Sooners' win over Kansas. It's the only catch to date of Connor's career with the Sooners, and one of 25 TD throws his brother has had in college.

''Seeing him out there, that's what puts joy in my heart,'' Trevor Knight said. ''Connor's bought into everything we do, he works extremely hard and he's found his role on this team. That makes me more proud than anything. To watch the way he's worked, to be in my shadow so to speak ... he's just a unique person in that he doesn't let things like that get to him.

''There's a bond there that no one else will understand.''

Well, almost no one else.

The Davis twins say they aren't identical, but they look and sound it - right down to finishing each other's sentences. J.D. is the older twin, arriving a minute before his brother. And they've been inseparable since.

''It's awesome to be able to play college football with your brother,'' Judah Davis said. ''We've done everything together, played on all the same teams together, and been on this journey together.''

Both sets of twins are roommates as well, so there's literally no escape. And neither would have it any other way.

''There's no one else I would rather share this with,'' J.D. Davis said.


Clemson is playing for something never done in college football history: 15-0.

Granted, teams play more games now than ever before, but the significance of being the first to 15 isn't lost on the Tigers. There's been five teams in the last 15 years to go 14-0, two others that went 14-1 (including national champion Ohio State last season), but the Tigers have a shot at going to a place that no FBS team has gone before.

''We had said before the season started that we wanted to be the best ever and we wanted to go 15-0,'' Clemson standout defensive end Shaq Lawson said. ''So that was our goal before the season even started, and we've got a chance of reaching our goal.''

Yes, the Tigers will give the requisite ''one game at a time'' cliche going into Thursday's College Football Playoff semifinal against Oklahoma. But Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson won't even try to deny that the Tigers know the significance of the record that will be theirs if they win the national title.

''Of course,'' Watson said. ''We want to be the best ever. There's never been a 15-0 team in college football. But first we've got to get past this one and continue our journey.''


Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon finally faced the media Tuesday.

He wasn't talking about an assault case that led to him being suspended for the entire 2014 season.

Mixon attended Orange Bowl media day with the rest of his coaches and teammates, after being off-limits to such scrutiny all year.

He was flanked by Oklahoma's chief media official, Mike Houck, who made sure Mixon never responded to questions about the legal case, which stemmed from allegations that he punched a woman in the face.

Mixon entered an Alford plea to the misdemeanor charge, performed 100 hours of community service and underwent counseling.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops acknowledged that Mixon was under strict orders not to discuss the case.

The running back followed those instructions, repeatedly turning down any questions on the subject - even when surrounded by more than a dozen reporters.

''I told you I'm not going to answer that,'' Mixon said at one point. ''You keep asking, but I already told you that's not happening.''

Toward the end of the hour-long session, Mixon repeatedly looked around and tugged at his jersey, like he was ready to go.

He insisted that it wasn't a burden, however.

''I've definitely been at the low,'' he said. ''But I'm at a high point in my life.''


Eric Mac Lain's long red beard created a buzz at Orange Bowl media day.

The 315-pound Clemson guard has been growing the beard all season, and it's now several inches long and - according to Mac Lain - the fullest facial hair in Thursday's game.

What kind of look is he going for?

''Just the whole caveman, yeti, Grizzly Adams-type deal,'' Mac Lain said. ''It has paid off well with the attention of the media. Everyone loves beard questions. It has been a good little brand for me''

Mac Lain said his girlfriend hates the beard.

''She can't wait until I cut it,'' he said. ''Luckily she lives in Greenville (S.C.). She's doing grad school there, so she doesn't have to see me every single day.''

Mac Lain plans to shave off the beard Jan. 12 - the day after the national championship game.


Jon Reschke figures he had no option growing up other than being a Michigan State fan, through the good and the bad years. His dad was a walk-on offensive tackle for the Spartans in the 1970s.

''Sometimes it was hard,'' Reschke said.

Reschke is now a starting sophomore linebacker for the No. 3 Spartans, who play No. 2 Alabama in a national semifinal game at the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Eve.

He said he likely won't even understand the significance of the Spartans' success until looking back many years from now. He said that is because they are doing what they should be doing - winning football games and championships.

''I'm blessed to be at Michigan State at this time, because we're winning,'' Reschke said. ''It's awesome.''


AP National Writer Paul Newberry and Sports Writers Stephen Hawkins and Steven Wine contributed to this report.


For more from inside the College Football Playoff, visit AP Now: College Football at