2017 CFP National Championship:
Alabama vs. Clemson Preview
Where: Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, Florida
When: Monday, January 9, 5:00 PM ET
TV Broadcast: ESPN
Writer’s Pick: Alabama Crimson Tide (-6.5)
College Football News and Previews
- Ohio State vs. Rutgers NCAA Football Preview - September 30, 2017
- Clemson vs. Virginia Tech NCAA Football Preview - September 30, 2017
- Arizona State vs. Stanford NCAA Football Preview - September 30, 2017
Betting on the Alabama Crimson Tide (-6.5)
This Alabama team has been as dominant as any team the college game has seen in quite some time. Since the Tide’s narrow 48-43 win over Ole Miss in Week 3, no team has managed to stay within single-digits of them. LSU came the closest, but even then the Tide completely shut down the Tigers offense in a 10-0 Bama win.
Alabama, while insanely good, isn’t a perfect team, though. True freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts is still a very shaky passer. He struggled against the elite pass defenses of LSU (10-19, 107 yards) and Florida (11-20, 138 yards), and he did so again in the Peach Bowl against Washington as he went just 7-of-14 for a season-low 57 yards.
There will be a bit of mystery surrounding the Bama offense after offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin’s departure to take over at FAU. Steve Sarkisian now takes over and has had just over a week to construct a gameplan against a very good Clemson defense.
However, there should be very little drama when it comes to Alabama’s defense, which is nothing short of amazing. The Tide stopped the Washington running game in its tracks (65 yards on 21 carries excluding sacks) and it should be able to do the same against an inconsistent Clemson running game which ranked just 62nd this season in rushing offense.
Betting on the Clemson Tigers (+6.5)
Aside from Ole Miss, no other team gave Alabama more trouble over the past two seasons than Clemson. Their one meeting was in last year’s national championship game, and Deshaun Watson starred in it.
The Clemson quarterback threw for 405 passing yards and 4 touchdowns, and ran for 73 more to break Vince Young’s record for most total yards in a national title game. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough to beat Bama.
Watson has been much shakier this season than he was coming into last year’s game. The Clemson QB has thrown seven interceptions in his last five games, including two against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.
However, he did make up for those turnovers with 57 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Watson has been much more active with his feet over the past couple weeks. He also ran for 85 yards and had two more rushing scores against Virginia Tech in the ACC title game.
From Johnny Manziel to Nick Marshall to Chad Kelly, the quarterback’s the ability to scramble and make plays with the feet has been a common factor in teams that have had success against Alabama in recent years, and Watson certainly has that ability. Clemson will need a superhuman performance from their star quarterback to win, but as he showed in last year’s title game, he can summon an extra level to his game if needed.
Despite Watson’s best efforts, Alabama’s defense is good enough to contain the Clemson QB. The Tide (-6.5) win back-to-back titles with a 31-20 win.
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