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No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson Duke it out for the National Championship

The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide look for their second straight national title as they face off against the No. 2 Clemson Tigers at Levi’s Stadium. This is the third time in the last four years that Alabama and Clemson have met in the national championship game, with each team previously picking up a victory. The Crimson Tide look to keep their perfect record intact as they are a 6-point favorite to hand the Tigers their first loss this year, with the total opening at 60 points.

Shark Bites
  • The total went OVER in nine of Alabama’s last 14 games.
  • Clemson allowed the second-fewest points per game in the nation this season (13.7).
  • Alabama scored the second-most points per game in the nation this season (47.7).

Alabama vs Clemson Game Center

Can the Crimson Tide go Wire-to-Wire?

For the fourth straight year, Alabama is competing for a national championship, and this year it may be doing so with its best team. The Crimson Tide are always known for having a lights-out defense but this season, with Tua Tagovailoa as the quarterback, they have an offense to complement their defense. The Hawaii native completed 69.5 percent of his passes this year for 3,671 yards with 41 touchdowns and just four interceptions, including throwing for 318 yards with four TDs vs Oklahoma in the semifinal. The tremendous play by the sophomore QB helped the Crimson Tide average 47.7 points per game, the second-most in the nation.

Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, Alabama surrendered just 14.8 points per game for the No. 4 mark in college football and yielded the 13th-fewest passing yards per game at 178.4. The ability to shut down the passing game can be attributed to the pass rush anchored by a pair of defensive linemen, senior Isaiah Buggs and sophomore Quinnen Williams. Buggs led the team with 9.5 sacks, 14th-most in the nation, and two forced fumbles while Williams had 18 tackles for a loss to rank 13th in the country. Overall, Alabama tallied 45 sacks, the fourth-most in the NCAA.

Do the Tigers have what it takes to shut down the Crimson Tide?

Clemson continued its defensive dominance in its semifinal match against Notre Dame, holding the Fighting Irish to a measly 248 total yards and three points that they got in the first quarter. That was the M.O. for the Tigers all season as they surrendered just 13.7 points per game to tie for the second-best mark in college football, and gave up the third-fewest rushing yards per game at 92.9.

They one-up Alabama’s two-headed monster on the defensive line with a three-headed monster of Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence, though the latter will not be in this game as he tested positive for a performance-enhancing supplement prior to the semifinal game. Ferrell finished in a tie for eighth in the nation with 10.5 sacks, while Wilkins had five of his own. Overall, Clemson racked up 52 sacks on the year to lead the NCAA and finished in a tie for 10th with 12 fumble recoveries.

Offensively, the Tigers had a QB controversy through the first three weeks of the season between senior Kelly Bryant and freshman Trevor Lawrence until the freshman won the job heading into their Week 4 matchup against Syracuse. The Georgia native amassed 2,933 yards with 27 TDs and four interceptions on the year. But it was sophomore running back Travis Etienne who really carried the load for Clemson, rushing for 1,572 yards with 22 touchdowns while averaging 8.3 yards per carry.

Is another OVER in store for Alabama and Clemson?

This year’s national championship game features two of the top five offenses and defenses in the nation and Bovada has the total opening at 60 points. Alabama averaged 47.7 points per game and went OVER 60 points in all but two games this year, with the two exceptions being victories in which they shut out LSU and Mississippi State.

Meanwhile, Clemson averaged 44.3 points per game, but only went OVER 60 points in five of 14 matches. Including last year’s semifinal clash, this is the fourth straight year that the Crimson Tide and Tigers have collided in the College Football Playoff, with two of the previous three meetings going OVER 60 points with an average combined score of 60.33. I think these two high-powered offenses going toe-to-toe will find a way to pile on points and I think we get another OVER.

My take on Alabama vs Clemson

I like the OVER and I like the Crimson Tide to cover the 6-point spread so my official pick will be Alabama to cover. The Crimson Tide never really had a true scare this year. Yes, they had the 14-point comeback to win vs Georgia in the SEC championship, but they still won by seven and that was their lowest winning margin of the season. Overall, Alabama is 14-0 SU and 8-6 ATS with an average winning margin of 31.5, including beating Oklahoma by 11 in the semifinal and limiting the Sooners to just 10 points in the first half.

Clemson showed some vulnerabilities this season, edging Texas A&M by two and Syracuse by four (although Trevor Lawrence was hurt early in that game) and allowing Jake Bentley (South Carolina) to throw for 510 yards and five TDs in Week 13. I just think this is the toughest defense Clemson has faced and I think it will struggle to keep up with Alabama.