In a rematch of last year’s national championship, the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide (14-0) will take on the Clemson Tigers (13-1).
Last season’s game saw the Tide hold off Clemson 45-40, despite an outstanding performance from Tigers QB Deshaun Watson, who threw for 405 yards and rushed for another 73.
Watson is back again, but Alabama’s defense seems more dominant than last season. Which team will prevail? Let’s discuss both teams below and look at this game’s betting line.
GTBets.eu Line for Alabama vs. Clemson: Jan. 9 @ 20:00
Clemson +6.5 (-110); +205
Alabama -6.5 (-110); -240
Why Clemson Will Win
For a team that made the College Football Playoff, Clemson had a rocky season.
They started with a pair of 6-point wins against underdog Auburn and Troy teams; needed overtime to beat a mediocre NC State team; and lost to an 8-5 Pittsburgh squad in November.
But few are focusing on Clemson’s up-and-down play after a 31-0 dismantling of Ohio State in the semifinals. Suddenly, this resembles the same team that lost by just 5 points to Bama in the 2016 National Championship.
What makes Clemson stand out is that, unlike the Tide, they’re strong on both sides of the ball. Their offense averaged 503 yards per game, with 328 through the air and 175 on the ground. Outside of a 19-13 win over Auburn in the first game, nobody has held the Tigers under 24 points in a game.
They also have the nation’s most-underrated defense, holding opponents to 17 points and 307 yards per game (ranked 7th and 8th nationally). The defense put on a show vs. the Buckeyes, holding them to just 215 total yards and forcing three turnovers.
Nobody is saying that Clemson’s defense is equal to Alabama’s talent. But it’s very good and capable of stopping Alabama’s offense.
Why Alabama Will Win
This looks like a classic case of offense vs. defense. The Tide rank No. 1 in both points allowed (11) and yardage allowed (244). Regarding the latter, Alabama only gives up 62 rushing yards a game, which isn’t Clemson’s strength to begin with.
If one team has a chance to dominate this contest, it’s definitely the Crimson Tide. Outside of a 48-43 victory over Ole Miss in their third game, Alabama has won by double digits in every game, while holding 12 of their 14 opponents to 16 points or less.
Many point to what Watson did to the Tide last year as evidence why Clemson will win. But this Alabama is better than last season’s version and will make life very difficult on the Tigers.
But the big question here is how their offense will perform. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin left last week to take the Florida Atlantic job, and former USC coach Steve Sarkisian was promoted to the OC position.
Sarkisian is a very capable OC, but it’s still iffy replacing a coordinator one week out from the biggest game of the season.
Nevertheless, Alabama did score 39 points per game (14th nationally) with 247 yards on the ground (11th). They have a very balanced rushing attack that includes Damien Harris (1,016 rushing yards), Jalen Hurts (891), Bo Scarbrough (719), and Joshua Jacobs (548). If this crew can impose their will, then Clemson is in for a long game.
Final Prediction on Tigers vs. Tide
Regardless of how many opponents Alabama has dominated this season, all signs point to this being another close one. Before the semifinals, the Tide looked like a runaway favorite. Now, Clemson is playing their best football of the season.
Alabama dominated the Washington Huskies 24-7, with defensive end Jonathan Allen saying afterward, “We could’ve played better.”
We have to agree and think that the Tide will perform better against Clemson. They should win this contest, but again, expect it to be close.
Final Score Prediction: Alabama wins 31-27, but Clemson covers the +6.5 spread.
Also note that we have the over/under at 50.5 (-110) on our GTBets line. Alabama’s defense is good, but we see the Tigers putting up enough points to see this contest reach 51 points or more.