Especially in college sports. Professional teams (and Bama IS a professional team, with near a hundred assistant coaches and recruiters, etc) even ones with the media, NCAA et al totally in the tank for them, have a habit of performing lower than the sum of their parts and system.
Bama doesnt develop players, they dont teach kids, they are a professional mercenary program, loaded three deep with 4 and 5 star talent at every position.
They play like a professional team. All business, little fire or drive. Much like say, the Michigan "Fab Five" basketball team, a team with five first round NBA players, who never seemed to care enough to win a Championship, players never improved, as they were busy concentrating on endorsements and their pro contracts.
They get away every year with a non QB. They dont have time for QB development, as their system allows a dullard, non passer like Hurts to step in and win based on their defense and a NFL level OL.
Clemson shouldnt have been in the game. A great, paid for DL, but nothing else that should have given Bama problems.
Hell, Clemson was really the third place team in the ACC Atlantic, it took a obvious and monumental effort by the refs to hand them the UL and Free Shoes games, and officiating carried them in a few more games.
Anyhoo, this happens a lot. I remember when I was teaching HS and coaching hoops. My first year team of five starting sophomores took a lot of lumps, (the 6'10" center, a 4 year starter for UL and NBA player, and a point guard who started four years for the Gatas, were paid by Cardinal Newman to transfer, and that hurt my talent level a lot)and we played in the State Playoffs a professional "private" school called Miami Pace. They had 10 D-1 players, 3 who went NBA, and a coach for every player. We lost on a bad call (so bad I racked up a $2,500 USD fine) at the end (my 6-2 center dunked the ball on the buzzer to win, but the refs called "charging" 10 seconds afterwards). The pro team played like individual pros, we played with fire and as a team.
You see it all the time. Remember FSU, with Anus Winston, needing a BS PI call to beat a half ass Auburn team in the NC?
Pro teams underperform a LOT in college!