The Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide will meet in the College Football National Championship game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11. Alabama offers a convenient heel for the game with the Nick Saban-led team dominating the college football landscape for years now. Clemson has spent the early years of the new millenium toiling in mediocrity until Dabo Swinney came on board and has made the team a national powerhouse. ‘Bama last won the national title in 2012 compared to Clemson who have not been the top team in the nation since 1981.
Despite a combined 27-1 record this season, Alabama and Clemson have been stay away bets all season with each team going 8-6 and 7-7 ATS respectively. After starting the season a lowly 3-5 ATS, Alabama has gone on to cover 5-1 in their last six. Clemson has covered in their last two with an average scoring margin of plus-14 points.
Alabama is coming off a complete joke of a semi-final game as they slapped Michigan State 38-0. Though much has been made of Heisman winner Derrick Henry’s play this season, rightfully so as he has 25 rushing touchdowns this season, quarterback Jake Coker has saved his best play for the end of the season. The senior signal caller has completed 74.7 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and no interceptions in the past four games.
Bama’s defense has been the same as always, one of the best in the nation. The Tide have only given up 14.4 points per game this season, third best in the nation, and have only twice allowed an opponent to score 20 or more points.
Clemson had a bit of a cakewalk themselves in their semi-finals as they bowled over Oklahoma 37-17. The Tigers remain undefeated this season and have a scoring differential of plus-18.3 through their 14 games so far.
Clemson’s offense goes through Deshaun Watson. The sophomore quarterback, and second runner-up in the Heisman vote, has thrown for 31 touchdowns while adding another 12 with his feet. Clemson’s offense uses a lot of options for Watson, which allows the quarterback to throw or tuck the ball as a designed runner.
It will likely be priority number one for the Clemson’s defense to stop Henry, but their front seven will need to generate pressure on Coker as well as the senior has proven he can be the focal point of the offense when needed. Clemson’s D ranked fourth in the nation with sacks and their front seven did a great job in the Orange Bowl game by harassing Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.