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Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Clemson Tigers College Football Playoff National Championship Game Predictions, Odds, Picks and NCAA Football Betting Preview – January 11, 2016

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Clemson Tigers College Football Playoff National Championship Game Predictions, Odds, Picks and NCAA Football Betting Preview – January 11, 2016

The Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide have been the two best teams in college football this season, so it’s only fitting that they will be the ones battling it out for the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship.

The No. 1-seed Tigers are one win away from completing a perfect season as they knocked out the Oklahoma Sooners in the Orange Bowl. [sc:NCAA-CHMP250 ]However, their undefeated record is in grave danger as they face the absolutely dominant defense of the No. 2-seed Crimson Tide, who are coming off a spectacular shutout of the Michigan State Spartans in the Cotton Bowl.

Read on below for our complete preview of the big title game. Meanwhile, check out who some top college football experts have picked in that Bama-Clemson matchup here.

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Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Clemson Tigers Preview

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale

When: Monday, January 11, 8:30 PM ET

Line: Alabama Crimson Tide (-7) vs. Clemson Tigers (+7); total 52.5 – view all NCAA Football lines

TV Broadcast: ESPN

Betting on the Alabama Crimson Tide (13-1, 7-1 SEC)

[sc:NCAA240banner ]Alabama’s defense is simply out of this world. It was pretty clear after it made former Heisman favorite Leonard Fournette (31 yards on 19 carries) look mortal during their matchup. It was pretty clear after it held eight of its next nine opponents following its lone loss to Ole Miss to 16 points or fewer. And it was made absolutely crystal clear after it shut out No. 3 Michigan State, 38-0, in the Cotton Bowl.

Alabama, who comfortably covered as a 10.5-point favorite in that game, is now 5-1 ATS in its last six games.

At this point, nothing short of a superhuman effort will be required to run on Bama’s nearly-impenetrable front. Just ask Florida and Michigan State. The Tide have given up just 44 rushing yards in their last two games.

With their ability to make Clemson running back Wayne Gallman a virtual non-factor, the Tide can put wave after wave of pressure on Deshaun Watson in the passing game. Bama also has the talent in the secondary to hold up in coverage against Clemson’s limited receiving weapons while Watson attempts to scramble. Alabama held opposing QBs to a 99.5 passer rating, good for fourth in the nation.

While the Alabama defense’s dominance against Sparty was hardly a surprise, the effectiveness of the passing game kind of was. With Bama forced to pass because of the Spartans’ ability to stop the run, quarterback Jake Coker stepped up with a truly magnificent performance. He went 25-of-30 for 286 yards and two touchdowns, both care of five-star freshman receiver Calvin Ridley (eight catches, 136 yards).

Bama’s bread and butter on offense should still be the ground game with reigning Heisman winner Derrick Henry, who still had two touchdowns in the semifinal despite being limited to 75 yards on 20 carries. However, Bama’s ability to play with another dimension on offense should give the Tide the decided edge in the title game.

Of course, there’s also the not-so-small matter of the Nick Saban factor. The Alabama head coach, who is gunning for his fifth national title, is a perfect 4-0 in his career in national championship-deciding games.

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Betting on the Clemson Tigers (14-0, 8-0 ACC)

Alabama vs Clemson CFP National Championship Game Picks and Preview

Clemson sure proved those odds wrong. Despite coming in as four-point underdogs, the Tigers showed just why they came into the College Football Playoff as the No. 1 seed as they simply outclassed the No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners, 37-17.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson looked every bit the Heisman Trophy finalist that he was this season. The true sophomore had 292 total yards (145 from the ground) and accounted for two touchdowns against Oklahoma. Running mate Wayne Gallman was also spectacular, adding 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Meanwhile, the Tigers defense applied all sorts of pressure on Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield despite losing top pass rusher Shaq Lawson early due to injury. They also limited a Sooners running game that averaged nearly 300 yards in its last seven games to just 67 yards.

Watson’s brilliance and Clemson’s elite defense – one that ranks No. 6 in the S&P+ rankings – are the big reasons why the Tigers could win their second national title in program history.

If Alabama’s awesome defense has showed any weakness over the years, it’s against spread offenses with mobile quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel and Nick Marshall who can make plays with their legs, much like what Watson has done incredibly well during the tail-end of Clemson’s season. Through his last six games, Watson has averaged 107 rushing yards with eight total rushing touchdowns.

The Clemson defense, meanwhile, will be encouraged by Michigan State’s success in slowing down Alabama’s Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. The Tigers have the talent to do a similar job stopping the run against Bama, and also have the skill in their secondary with the likes of shutdown corner Mackensie Alexander to prevent the Tide from making big plays in the passing game.

Writer’s Prediction

Alabama’s defense is just too good and it proves itself again by shutting down Watson. Meanwhile, Henry and Coker provide enough offense for the Tide (-7) to take the title with a 27-17 win.

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Brad
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