Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers will meet in the National Championship today for the second time in three years and the fourth time overall since the start of the college football playoff just a few years prior (8pm ET Monday).
Neither of these teams, vying for the top prize of the college football season, is a stranger to this stage. So it is no surprise that out of 100+ teams, it is Clemson and Alabama left standing as the final two. They have been the class of the playoff ever since the beginning. In fact, they have been only two of four teams to actually win playoff games in that four year span. Both have also won a national championship in that time. There is no denying that Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban have built strong, formidable programs.
In looking at this matchup, it represents the third time that Alabama and Clemson are meeting in the national championship game. The record is currently tied 1-1 as Clemson defeated Alabama to win the title in 2016 and Alabama emerged victorious in 2015. Again it comes down to the ACC’s best against the SEC’s best.
Alabama Might Be Better Than Ever
Alabama has won more national titles under Saban than anybody else. They have done it with offense. They have done it with defense. They have done it with special teams. Pretty much any way you could beat an opponent Alabama has done so. Yet it is this team that is being considered as one of Alabama’s best.
Behind Tua Tagovailoa, the sophomore QB, Alabama’s offense has been strong both in its passing and running game. The Crimson Tide have certainly benefitted from the Heisman runner-ups offense in addition to their usually strong stout defensive efforts. Tagovailoa led the Crimson Tide to an average of 47.7 points per game, which was good enough for second best in the nation. In just his second year, Tagovailoa completed nearly 70 percent of his passes and totaled over 3,600 yards with 41 touchdowns and just four interceptions. In the semifinal, Tagovailoa threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns to help Alabama advance over Oklahoma.
As good as Tagovailoa has been for the offense, Alabama’s defense has been far from stingy as well. The Crimson Tide have allowed opponents just under 15 points per game this year, the fourth best in all of college football. They have also allowed just the 13th fewest passing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks at 178.4.
Can Clemson’s Formula for Success Continue?
Can Clemson defeat Alabama on Monday night? Sure they can. In order to do so they will need to rely on the same defensive formula that got them this far. Offensively, Clemson doesn’t offer the same sort of juggernaut game that Alabama does. They have a running back who averages over eight yards per carry and he will certainly be looked to today as he also ran for 22 touchdowns on the year. Beyond that, the Tigers actually had somewhat of a QB controversy over the first few weeks. Things finally settled down as Trevor Lawrence claimed the starting job but for the most part, Clemson’s story has been one of defensive success.
The Tigers racked up 52 sacks on the year, the best in the NCAA. They also ranked among the top in several other key defensive metrics, all things Alabama will surely keep in mind tonight.
The real question is: Can Clemson’s success continue? The ACC is not a cake conference by any means. Clemson had to pick up some big victories against top-25 teams in order to book their trip in the postseason. That being said, they’ve not quite faced an offense like Alabama’s this year.
The Crimson Tide bring everything to the table as they do everything well. From QB play to the running game to the long passing game, it is hard to pinpoint a weakness for Alabama. That is not great news for Clemson as their success has come in part because they have managed to exploit opponents’ weaknesses. That task becomes tougher against an Alabama team which really hasn’t shown many this entire season.
Our Preview’s Alabama Crimson Tide vs Clemson Tigers Picks & Betting Predictions Verdict
Neither Alabama nor Clemson had a particular tough road to return to the national championship, which has really been the stomping ground of the two since the advent of the playoff some five seasons ago. Both teams have been to this stage and both know what it takes to win.
That being said, no one has been as good as Alabama this year. Both Alabama and Clemson finished the season undefeated but Alabama’s undefeated was full of a lot more certainty. They showed a return to form as the team that won the title in 2015 and even against a strong opponent like Clemson feel like a sure thing.
The Crimson Tide are favored a lofty six points but our bet is that they cover. Alabama is in the midst of one of the all-time great seasons and even a team as good as Clemson won’t be able to stop them from claiming the ultimate prize. Here are our Alabama vs Clemson predictions:
- Bet on Alabama -5.5pts on the spread @ -110 with Intertops or Bookmaker. The other United States online sports betting oddsmakers are -6pts or worse odds.
- The other of our preview’s picks is to go over 58pts @ +100 (evens) with BetOnline. This NCAAF National Championship game has all the hallmarks of a high-scoring affair.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.