The Alabama Crimson Tide enter this championship game as a seven-point favorite over the Clemson Tigers. It’s a rematch of last year’s National Championship game, which saw the Crimson Tide beat the Tigers 45-40. Tigers’ quarterback Deshaun Watson had an amazing game against the Crimson Tide’s defense throwing for 405 yards and four touchdown passes. His ability to weave and dodge pass rushers while keeping his eyes down the field became a hindrance to the Bama defense and Saban even admitted later that Watson gave them all they could handle.
Nick Saban’s focus will be on how to NOT get played by Watson for the second year in a row.
Speaking of Nick Saban, he pulled a pretty petty and surprising move before the championship game by “letting go” of his offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Kiffin had accepted the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic and Saban believed that it was best for Kiffin and Alabama to split. Kiffin has been nothing short of amazing as Bama’s offensive coordinator and for the first time in a long time, maybe it’s time for the general public to question the ego and pettiness within that ego of Nick Saban. Keep in mind, Alabama has had a true freshman quarterback in Jalen Hurts, who although has been commended for his extreme maturity to go along with his talent – has been comfortable in Kiffin’s offensive scheme. Saban should be smart enough to tell new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian “stick to the script,” in order to keep the familiarity within this offense.
Clemson’s defense has been good this year allowing only 18.4 points per game. They have held opponents to a 52% completion percentage and have nabbed 20 interceptions throughout the season. Their rushing defense has been equally as impressive allowing only 3.5 yards a carry. That number will be challenged by an Alabama offense that charges ahead at 5.7 yards a carry which gives Bama the advantage in what I call a “clash average” of 4.6 yards a carry.
Alabama has had the best defense all year in college football allowing under 12 points a game and holding the opposition to two yards a carry. Clemson’s offense averages 40 yards a game (as does Alabama) but it’s the battle up-front where Clemson hasn’t seen power like this all year.
As the story was last year, Clemson will rely on Watson to keep the Tigers marching up and down the field for four quarters of football. Saban-coached-defenses have issues with mobile quarterbacks as Watson proved last year, and as Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel proved in years prior. This Crimson Tide defensive unit has NFL talent all around(about five or these kids are projected to go in the first two rounds of the NFL draft) and they also have proved to keep their emotions in check, never getting too high and never getting down on themselves.
Although this Bama defensive unit is stout, Clemson has on offense two players who are slated as the best in their respective positions come the NFL draft. Aside from Deshaun Watson being the number one quarterback prospect by some “experts” — Mike Williams, is without a doubt the number one receiving talent in college today. Williams brings to this championship game his 84 receptions, 10 touchdowns and 1171 yards on the season.
For Nick Saban, this is one of his best teams he’s coached at Alabama (that is saying A LOT). On the other side of the ball is a coach in Dabo Swinney who has built up the Clemson program as one of the strongest in the nation. Dabo has built a culture there and has been recruiting out of his mind, producing NFL talent on both sides of the ball. The one thing that eludes him is a National Championship. This time around, he gets a rematch against arguably the greatest coach of all-time in Saban. For Saban, this is an opportunity to repeat as champion and further solidify his legendary status.
The motivation for both teams will be high, as it should be.
The over/under for this game is 51. Take the over. The seven point spread favors the underdog, but Bama is just too strong and can wear out any team in college football, even one as talented as Clemson.